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A Craving for Carving in Bali

Ubud Area Wood Carvers Idled by Lack of Wood Supplies.

(6/15/2009) Thousands of wood carvers in the Gianyar region of Bali are complaining to provincial trade and industry officials that the wood which forms the raw material of their trade is becoming increasingly difficult to secure.

On Monday, June 8, 2009, a group of traditional wood carvers from the Tegalalang region, north of Ubud, told NusaBali that the current shortage of wood is more severe that shortages experienced in the past. A lack of wood supply and the extremely high cost of the wood that remains available, has idled many Ubud area wood carvers.

One carver, who works with albesia wood, Wayan Sudiarta, said that the cost of wood has risen three hundred percent over the past five years, Not only is wood expensive, but also very hard to come by. Explained Sudiarta: "It's like this, woodworkers like me are suddenly almost 'dead.' We can't do anything."

Sudiarta told the press that proof of the collapse of the wood carving industry is large number of former woodcarvers who have now been forced to change their professions, becoming construction workers and farmers. Those who have remained as wood carvers now earn around Rp. 20,000 (US$2) for a day's work.

The head of the Gianyar Industry and Trade Office, Wayan Suamba, told NusaBali that there is little his office can do to held the wood carvers, with the supply of wood products a matter for the Department of Forestry to deal with. He urged carvers to use their creativity to confront the current crisis, exploring the use of new types of wood when traditional wood sources suddenly dry up.

When asked by the press if the government would undertake steps to find new sources of wood beyond Bali, Suamba agreed that a collective effort between the various associations and the department of forestry was needed.

"Such an effort we will try to undertake, though I can't confirm when," explained Suamba.