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Making Bali's Wood Carvers Self-Reliant

Government Wants Balinese Villagers to Plant Rotating Crop of Trees on Local Farmlands to Make Bali's Wood Carving Industry Sustainable.

(7/17/2010) The Bali Forestry service is inviting the public to develop local forest reserves in order to meet the need for raw material among the island's wood workers and statue carvers.

Quoted by the national news agency, Antara, the head of Bali's Forestry Service, Anak Agung Ngurah Buana, said, "We are preparing seedlings without charge and requesting public participation (in the project) in conjunction with the Heads (Kelian) of the Bali community units."

Buana said that forests planted by local communities would be ready for harvest in three to four years.

The type of woods to be planted include mahogany, Bintangur (bentawas), Crocodile wood (panggal buaya) and rain tree (trembesi) which forestry officials hope local residents will introduce in their land holdings.

"The felling of the trees should be carried out in stages, ideally over four cuttings from a single planting, in order to provide for a sustainable harvest," he continued.

He also explained that over the last several years, the Forestry Service has distributed one million trees plantings without charge to the public.

"Once our proposal receives local community approval, seedlings can be taken at three nursery locations in Suwung (Denpasar), Grokgak (Buleleng) and Abang (Karangasem)," he explained.

Continuing to outline the scheme, he described how plantings should be limited to 400 trees per hectare, allowing mixed agriculture including also corn, cassava and several varieties of peanuts to coexist alongside the forestry cultivation. This approach provides a secondary cash crop while waiting for the wood harvest to sufficiently mature.

Agung Buana expressed the wish that trees can be planted in a mixed agricultural product setting in every vacant parcel of land in Bali as part of efforts to make Bali green, while at the same time helping to fulfill raw material needs of the local wood carving sector.

Bali has a constant need for wood required by traditional carvers, currently compelling the import of wood from other areas of Indonesia each year. Efforts to create new wood sources on Bali will hopefully, over time, reduce the need for these imports, making a key Bali employment sector more self-reliant.

Bali currently calculates its forested regions as covering 130,686 hectares comprised of 95,766 hectares (73.28%) of conservation land and 26,293 hectares (20.12%) of protected trees and 8.626 hectares (6.60%) of wood plantations. In all, forested land covers only 22% of the island's surface, a number substantially below the 30% figure seen as ideal for sustaining Bali's natural environment.