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Saving the Forest for the Trees

Criticism Continues to Mount on Appointment of Private Company to Manage Baliís Protected Mangrove Forest Area

(10/19/2012) A senior researcher for The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Dr. Suharsono, has joined the debate over the leasing of the Ngurah Rai Mangrove Forest in Bali by telling Seputarbali.com he does not agree with the privatization of the management of such areas. “I don’t agree that Tahura (Ngurah Rai Mangrove Forest) be given over to private investor management because on the sustainable protection and preservation of the forest is be done on the one hand for reasons of sustainability, while on the other there are plans to build the tourism facilities there,” he said.

Suharsono said the reasons behind the provincial government of Bali’s decision to grant private sector management of Tahura remains unclear. Also perplexing for the highly regarded academic and researcher are plans by the company to develop facilities within the mangrove zone. Adding, “If they are only building a jogging track that will not affect Tahura. But if there are tourism facilities that include restaurants, then these outlets will affect the surrounding environment.”

Professor Suharsono said that mangrove forested areas must be allowed to remain wild, developing freely without any outside intervention. “According to me, it is best if the provincial government manage (the mangrove forest). What’s more, the mangrove forest in this area is very limited. So, if it is managed by an investor, the forest will be exploited.”

Speaking to the press, the LIPI official underlined the importance of the mangrove forest as a barrier against high waves and erosion, while at the same time absorbing carbons as part of efforts to reduce global warming.

Suharsono said that prior to any decision being taken by the provincial government on the management of the mangrove forest, a comprehensive review is first need that involved both the legislature and the general public. In the current situation, he explained, the public feels bypassed with the lease and permit covering the next 55 years being issued without any public hearings.

Separately, the chairman of the environmental impact division of the research center for environmental studies at Udayana University, Dr. Made Sudiana Mahendra, says that the carrying capacity of Bali’s southern region has been surpassed, a situation that will only be worsened by the construction of tourism facilities in the Tahura Mangrove forest. “I am extremely disappointed that that the permit has been issued. Was this discussed beforehand wit the DPRD (House of Representatives)?”

Continuing, Mahendra called on the government to comprehensively reconsider the permit issued to a private company to manage the 102.22-hectare mangrove area.

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