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Views Made by Fools Like Me, But Only God Can Make a Tree

Controversy Surrounds Felling of Old Shade Trees to 'Improve' View for Guests of Hotel Ramada Camakila in Bali.

(1/25/2010) The National News Agency Antara reports that mature shade trees are continuing to disappear in the Kuta area of Bali. While trees in the past were cut down by unnamed individuals, the recent removal of three decades old trees along Jalan Double Six was done by the Hotel Ramada Camakila with the permission of the Village Chief (Lurah) of Kuta.

The chairman of a local community organization, Wayan Suata, said: "We see that the Lurah of Kuta is playing games with the hotel. The proof is that the hotel with only the permission of the village administration is emboldened to removed trees in the Legian region."

In the past, the Bupati (Regent) of Badung, Anak Agung Gde Agung, has urged the greening of Bali and outlawed the reckless destruction of shade trees.

Suata added: "I regret the felling of these shade trees only on the authorization of the village administration. This means the lurah has ignored the directives of his superior, the Bupati."

Suata and other local residents are claiming that the felling of the shade trees has increased the temperature in the area.

"The trees are older than those who built the hotel; it doesn't make sense that they be cut merely on the request of the hotel," said Suata.

Meanwhile, the hotel is defending the destruction of the trees, saying guests staying at the hotel now have a better view that the trees have been cut down.

"Come on," protested a local resident quoted by Antara, "established trees have to be sacrificed just for a better view? It appears the concept of the hotel is to abandon the preservation of the environment."

Officials from the village administration have defended the trees' removal, saying Hotel Ramada has every right to cut down tree that interfere with their guests view. The permit to cut down the shade tree also contained the requirement for the hotel to plant 10 coconut trees as replacements trees.

Similar felling of aged shade trees have also taken place recently near the Ramayana Hotel on Jalan Kartika Plaza, Kuta.

The head of the Hygiene and Public Parks Department (KPK) for Badung, Wayan Suteja, claims that trees can only be cut down with the written permission of his department.