The mining of rocks and sand around the caldera of Bali’s Mount Batur is threatening both the environment and natural beauty of the area.
The Bali chapter of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) is calling on the regional government of Bangli to revoke the mining licenses of those company removing rocks and sand from the area of the caldera to halt further damage to the local environment.
In making the call, ASITA is reminding the regency that the volcano is part of a Global Geopark Network so designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on September 20, 2012.
Seputarbali.com reports that the chairman of ASITA-Bali, Ketut Ardana, told the press on Tuesday, July 30, 2013, that the Bangli Regency must stop all mining activities within the Geopark area and begin to implement conservation measures.
Ardana warned that if mining continues there exists the possibility that UNESCO will revoke the Geopark status of the area. The current mining program, says Ardana, is damaging the local environment and disrupting tourist activities at the Mt. Batur Geopark.
Added Ardana: “We have already declared the areas as a unique tourism area (meaning) such things should be possible. UNESCO will check after one year to see what Bali has done with the Geopark. We’ll see what develops.”
Meanwhile, the Regent of Bangli, Made Gianyar, insists he has never authorized mining activities in the area surrounding Mt. Batur. He said his administration is now bringing the situation under control and approaching miners to help them find new sources of employment. Adding: “They will change their professions from mining to making Geopark products or souvenirs." The souvenirs sold in the Park’s area will be made by local people, reducing the need to mine rocks,” Gianyar explained.
The Director General of Culture from the Ministry of Education and Culture, Kacung Marijan, has urged the Bangli government to for a management board for the Batur Geopark. Such a board, in Marijan’s view, would be assigned to create plans for the development of the Batur Geopark with emphasis on conservation, development and the education of the local populace about the importance of the park.
Bangli regency data shows a growing number of visitors to the Batur caldera each year with 500,000 visitors coming to the area in 2012, an increase from the 300,000 visiting in 2011. Visitors in 2013 are expected to top 600,000.