Asia, Bali, environment, religion

#UWRF16 – Paradise Revisited a Panel Discussion

The panel was tasked with considering the proposition that:

From busloads of tourists and bustling beaches, to Balinese Hinduism and a global voice, Bali is a place that knows how to adapt.

This is a summary of my introductory comments and a little more that there was insufficient time to express.

As the only foreigner on this panel I’d like to say a little about misunderstandings.

Recently Melbourne Barrister Jim Mellas posted this anecdote on. His Twitter stream.Uber driver: what sort of work do you do?

Jim: I’m a barrister

Uber Driver: I like coffee! Where you work? I come for coffee.

When I first came to Bali such misunderstandings were common enough for me.

One day I was asked

Ke mana, Russell

Saya ke pasar, mau mendapat penjahat

Penjahat, Russell?

Oh, maaf Penjait

My friends were very forgiving.

Misunderstandings arising from language were common in those days and continue but I was determined to learn as much as I could about Bali.

So when I’m confronted with a statement as blunt as Bali is a place that knows how to adapt, in the interests of clarity and efficient communication many questions arise. First, what is adaptation.

In biology – the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment. In evolutionary terms this is predicated on the existence of natural selection.

In a social sense: the process of changing to better suit a situation.
Now that makes sense Desa, Pala, Patra – adapting to time – place and context is a commonly understood principle in Bali and therefor a potential strength.

There its no doubt that the connectivity and creativity of Balinese society affords a degree of resilience in the fast of major changes offering many opportunities for social adaptation, many creative solutions.

Indeed the early emergence of cultural tourism in the Gianyar Regency, Ubud in particular, is one such positive adaptation, so too is the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival now in its 13th year. Events such as this add value to tourism, strengthen local capacities to respond and adapt to a changing world, to make a creative response to the the globalised industrial and post industrial economic system now so predominant.

Where I must question Bali’s adaptability is in the domain of the biophysical environment, it’s management and the associated environmental mangement economics or the green economy where the answer to the question is problematic.

At this stage I contend that Bali isn’t successfully adapting in this domain, but retain a significant degree of optimism, given the creativity of the human resources on this small island.

I shape my answer to this question with  spiritual, scientific and economic perspectives.

Spiritually my position accords with that of Patriarch Bartholomew when he writes:

“. . . to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin.

For human beings to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests, or by destroying its wetlands; for human beings to injure other human beings with disease; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life, with poisonous substances – all of these are sins.”

As a corollary he adds:

The way “. . . we treat the earth and all of creation defines the relationship that each of us has with God. It is also a barometer of how we view one another.”

When I first came to Bali, I hadn’t developed such insights, I brought my background in Geography and Economics but it wasn’t long before I came up against a Balinese spiritual tool Tri Hita Karana.

In simple terms it asserts that there are three causes of prosperity and happiness and that these states proceed from harmonious relationship between:

(1) Humans and God – Parhyangan;

(2) Humans and their neighbours – Pawongan,

(3) Humans and the natural world – Palemahan.

Its roots are far more ancient, although this doctrine only came into wide use as recently as the 1966.  My sense was that Tri Hita Karana could be applied in a material as well as a spiritual sense yet I saw many examples of lack of material harmony or equilibrium, particularly in the relationship between humans and nature.

What I wasn’t understanding was the application of another set of understandings Sekala and Nislala.  In the simplest sense this means that reality, is an interaction of the Seen and the Unseen. In time I came to accept this idea and have now completed my first book of short stories with this as the part of its title.

Yet in accepting this idea it gradually became plain that harmonious relations between humans and nature were often mediated through ceremonies, through the Unseen realm and that for many this represented sufficient regard for the environment.

This worked well enough in the pre-industrial world even though Bali was by no means sealed and impervious to outside influences. Fortunately, such external influences were for the most part environmentally non-disruptive, by comparison with the present.

Things changed in the 1970s with the growth is wide bodied jet travel and the dawn of the era of mass tourism.

In Bali before this era forces like Bhoma played their part within the unseen realm. As the child of Vishnu and Ibu Pertiwi, Bhoma is an entity whose place is intrinsically connected with the conjunction of earth and water. In terrestrial environments, earth, water, atmosphere and biosphere all meet. All four domains are present in a space where energy is exchanged and fundamental transformations in states of matter occur.

In pre-industrial Bali it was easy for humans, much of what they did was in harmony with nature, so natural processes remained intact and unimpeded. All remained in equilibrium and Bhoma was free to carry out his work skimming across the earth and transforming rubbish into the food of life.

So where are we now? Well Bhoma has indigestion, the heartburn of Tri Hita.

The Bali I encountered, when I first came here has gone. My greatest fear is that given the high demand elasticity of budget tourism in South East Asia, and the mounting numbers of tourists escaping the polluted cities of eastern China and headed for Bali, that they will settle for tarmac, concrete and plastic, a Bali of Benoa Bay canal estates, an artificial and unsustainable paradise.

The solution is in valued added tourism. I’ve always believed that cultural, environmental and educational tourism is something Balinese society can do well. Perhaps there is hope in the Bali Clean and Green Program. What it must deal with and how effective it can be, I hope we will confront, in discussion. If it isn’t effective the answer to the question is an absolute no.

I still want Bali to be the morning of the world, even if it’s moving into the siang, towards midday.

Read more of my work by either picking up a copy of Seen and Unseen: a century of stories from Asia and the Pacific from me at UWRF16 or from Toko Buku Ganesha in Ubud. It’s also available through Amazon and as an audio book through CD Baby. Visit my website for full details.

Seen and Unseen a century of stories from Asia and the Pacific is reviewed by Bill Dalton in Toko Buku on page 17  of the Bali Advertiser for October 26, 2016.

View a Pecha Kucha on my work here.

Asia, Australia, environment, geography, history, indigenous, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam

#BookLaunch of ‘Seen & Unseen: a century of stories from #Asia & the #Pacific’


This is a Chitter Media Production, produced and edited by Adrian Metlenko, camera operators Adrian Metlenko and Evan Darnley-Pentes.

Indonesia, religion, sociology

‘Magic, Polygamy & Triangles’, a story from “Seen & Unseen: a century of stories from Asia & the Pacific”


This is just an introduction to the ‘Magic Polygamy and Triangles”. After this brief introduction the story segues into the intrigue of a love triangle and magic. In all this is a tale of duplicity, intrigue, fear and accusations of witchcraft.

Indonesia, religion

Walking Into The Past One #Ubud Morning

Jalan Raya Ubud, just after Galungan and Kuningan
Jalan Raya Ubud, just after Galungan and Kuningan

Avenues of penyor cascading over the streets and lanes of Ubud, a striking reminder that Galungan and Kuningan had passed for yet another Balinese year.

Bridges between an unseen world of spirit and a contemporary corporal world penyor symbolise this time when ancestor spirits are believed to visit their worldly families partaking in feasting and festivities. Redolent of Christmas in my own tradition, in the mood and in the symbols of celebration, there is much that connects these seasons.  Both are times of goodwill, one grounded in the endless cycling of souls the other in a singular incarnation of the supreme, yet both are times of explosive artistic expression.

Along Jalan Raya Ubud, through the lanes and side streets, so many of the palm leaf decorations were ready-made, no longer crafted in the village. Once they would have been fashioned by local hands in young coconut palm, much as in an earlier time we made our own Christmas decorations. Now in the 21st century, and the dollar chasing epoch of mass tourism, time is money corroding the intangible non-monetary pleasures of a more fulsome engagement with season. In the cash economy it is easier to buy it all of the rack. Now it is sourced from Munti, a small village in Karangasem regency East Bali.

Agung Niang

Reflecting on seasons past I stopped for breakfast at a small warung just north of the banyan tree in central Ubud. Agung Niang is an old friend and no visit to Ubud is complete without her special smoked chicken, vegetable and rice. She is a few years older than me and in the shadow of the season just passed I couldn’t help but observe how many of the people I’d known, my friends, mentors and colleagues, were now dead.

I Gusti Made Semung

I Gusti Made Semung, one of I Gusti Nyoman Lempad’s son’s had first introduced me to this warung, some 25 years ago. While without the global notoriety of his father I Gusti made Semung was an experienced cultural interpreter fond of recounting some of his earlier encounters with Margaret Mead and her husband Gregory Bateson.

In March 1936 when the newlyweds arrived in Bali their first eight weeks was spent in Ubud, learning the basics of the Balinese language. Already attracting interpreters of Balinese culture in the persons of people such as Walter Spies and Miguel and Rosa Covarrubias, Ubud’s Cokorda Gede Agung Sukawati welcomed such serious students of culture.

One morning over coffee my friend told me a story of one encounter with Bateson, illustrating a challenge of discernment probably encountered by many an anthropologists in discourse with a guide or informant.

Purple Mangosteen

Mangosteen have a multi-sided pattern on their base. Those familiar with this delicious fruit would know that the number of sides in the pattern corresponds with the number of segments in the mangosteen.  Gusti delighted in explaining how he mystified Bateson by holding up mangosteen, stalk side towards the viewer and predicting how many segments they contained, thus proving that the unseen magical world is often merely in the mind of the beholder.

The following video clip contains the voice of I Gusti Made Semung translating for the interviewer Lorne Blair. This clip is from The Ring of Fire series. It also contains some footage of I Dewa Nyoman Batuan, another old friend from a nearby village, whom I’ll write about at some other time.

John Darling

Gusti and his renown architect, artist, and craftsman father also mentored Bali student, historian and celebrated film maker John Darling.  Through Lempad John was able to build on family land in Taman, north of Ubud. After Lempad’s death at 116 years in 1978, John’s inspired work Lempad of Bali gave us a powerful insight into his life, his passing and the ceremonies leading up to his cremation. Through the Lempad story we were treated to a glimpse of a culture still poorly understood in the outside world.

John followed this work with many others, not all about Bali, but notably the Bali Triptych. Meeting him in Melbourne with Cokorda Raka Kerthyasa, five years after the release of Lempad of Bali, was inspiring.  I loved his matter of fact acceptance of Balinese culture, his spiritual insights and the ease with which we could fall into discussion.  He was a supportive figure in the early days of Asian Field Study Centres.

Years later he sent me a copy of The Healing of Bali, an unhesitating gesture that contributed so manifestly to my own healing after the bombings of 2002.  When he became ill, with the hereditary disease haemochromatosis, I often rang him but as his end approached his wife Sara protected him from my calls. I was greatly saddened with his passing in 2011.  “He is remembered by the people of Ubud as one of the few foreign ‘custodians’ of Balinese culture who didn’t take – but shared.” Tjokorda Gde Mahatma Putra Kerthyasa said of his life.

Wanting to meet up with Rio Helmi at some stage I asked Agung Niang where the new Rio Helmi Gallery & Cafe was. She pointed, it was just across the road. Someone was already preparing to open for the day.  I made a mental note to ring him and moved on, turning into the first lane, then right into the next street Jalan Kajeng, which used to have the colloquial name of Hans Snel Road.  Another mental note, visit the Il Giardino restaurant now in the garden of the Hans Snel Bungalows.

Hans Snel

Hans Snel died sixteen years ago.  Quite a character and one of the first non-Indonesians to be granted citizenship. He was part of the Dutch military forces in 1946 that were attempting to reimpose colonial control in the newly formed Republic of Indonesia. Hans loved Indonesia, Bali in particular, and his commitment was sealed when he immediately fell in love with a local woman.

Not so much a mentor as an icon for me, his challenging the neo-colonial orthodoxies in the immediate post war period placed him completely out of step with many of his countrymen.  Such a place I know well  from my own experiences in the mid-1960. Was he a deserter or just AWOL or a hero of sorts? I wondered and remembered him as I walked on.

Encountering Coca Cola

Just up the road from Starbucks, these global icons seem unavoidable.
Just up the road from Starbucks, these global icons seem unavoidable.

Kajeng is narrow, above it the airspace dominated by over-arching penyor and a tangle of electricity and communications cables lane. Just up the lane a bright red Coca-Cola delivery truck almost seemed in place.

Pak Roda

Ganesha wreathed in Marigolds
Ganesha wreathed in Marigolds

Snapping a few shots I moved on till something stopped me.  Glancing to the east I noticed a yellow wreathed Ganesha guarding the entrance to a family compound, then the name Roda.  Of course I was at Roda’s house. We first met years earlier at the Hotel Campuan.  On my first trip to Bali, with a small family, the decision was between Cecak Inn, once on the site of Ibah, and Hotel Campuan.  Not really knowing Bali and only having travelled in Sumatra, we opted for the more well-known hotel.  A mistake in hindsight, but it allowed serendipitous meetings with Roda and the very lively Penny Berton.

Roda was visiting bungalows and selling his distinctive bamboo flutes and illustrated books showing the notation for basic Balinese tunes.  I thought they were expensive but bought a flute and book anyway, intrigued by the man himself. I often saw him around Ubud over the next year. We sometimes chatted.

With Asian Field Study Centres now about to welcome its first intake of students, I was on an extended stay in Ubud when I met him one morning in the lane leading to a small hotel where I was staying.  He seemed to remember my youngest son, Evan whom he met as an infant. Evan was delighted when Roda handed him a book and painted flute. Initially apprehensive, not knowing what he might charge now that my son was such an enthusiastic possessor of a new toy, I was surprised when he refuse payment. I tried to insist but he was adamant.  There would be no charge.  I thanked him but remained puzzled.

Later than evening Roda died. Learning of this we asked for help in what we must do to pay our respects.  The next day, appropriate supplies of white cloth and rice in hand we went to his house.  Roda was lying in state. This was terrifying for me. Although I’d worked with cadavers and seen one deceased traffic accident victim, I had never seen anyone I knew, dead.  Roda still lives in my memories and his generous gesture still leaves me contemplating just how cognizant of his imminent departure he was.

Wayan Cemul

Asian Field Study Centres operated a field study program that began as a partnership between myself, Matina Pentes and Adrienne Truelove.  It offered a rich experiences for students.  One of the most successful elements was what were termed Cultural Options. These were hands-on sessions with artists, artisans and dancers in the wider Ubud area.  Students made their own way to each session working with their teacher in the way any Balinese person might learn. Wayan Cemul was our stone carving teacher, he lived a few doors north of Roda’s place and I was standing outside his family compound moments later.

Carvings by the entrance to the late Wayan Cemul's compound.
Carvings by the entrance to the late Wayan Cemul’s compound.

Cemul was someone who Madeleine Murray discovered when she studied stone carving with him in 1983.  He proved to be our most successful teacher. Completely dedicated to his craft, original, patient and outstanding in handling difficult students.  He did all without English and with his rudimentary Bahasa Indonesia. He was a master of non-verbal communication.  In evaluation students consistently, rated him as the best. Unfortunately my last visit with him revealed that he was no longer remembering much of the past. I loved him and respected him and was sad when I learned of his death. This video conveys something of the man and his work, but it was produced during his twilight years.

An encounter with my old friend Ida Bagus Oka

Passing Sri Rejeki Art Shop a little further along the road, I stopped when the proprietor hailed me.  We chatted for a moment.  Just basa basi before I realised it was Ida Bagus Oka, a man I’d known for many years, who like me was revealing some of the distinct features of aging.

Ida Bagus Oka.  Very much alive.
Ida Bagus Oka. Very much alive.

We’ve always had a cordial relationship.  It was tested in a most challenging way years ago, when some antisocial student clients, working as a team, began stealing wood carvings from his market stall. Realising a possible connection with me he followed them back to the hotel rather than raising any alarms.

In those days summary penalties for theft, particularly by outsiders, could be most severe. I recalled one incident of a thief being beaten to death by a large group in Padang Tegal, just to the south, a year earlier. My field worker colleague at the time, Bob Glassick, a Psychiatric Social Worker and accustomed to crisis intervention.  He had recovered the goods, paid a small fee to Ida Bagus for his inconvenience and reported the matter to the students’ teachers before I even knew about it.

My work was minimal.  After the students returned home I extracted letters of apology from them and returned six months later sitting with Ida Bagus and translating each apology in turn. These days his interests turn on surviving now that his business is no longer located in the Ubud market. “People go to the market to buy things, here they walk past on their way somewhere else.  It’s harder to do business here.” I could see his point.

Nyoman Sarma – The Most Recent Departure

Nyoman, in later years from
Nyoman, in later years from

Now flowing with this day this day as it unfolded I remembered that Nyoman Sarma once lived opposite. He was another of the deceased, one with whom I’d spoken with quite recently, just before his death. Nyoman was born 1952 in Banjar Taman Kaja.  He had ties in Kalimantan where his brother was a policeman, as well as Bali and also spent a part of his early life working outside Indonesia. Nyoman was often in Kalimantan,  what he did I’m not sure. I do know that he had an early interest in wood carving.

While Balinese carving is intricate and traditionally tied to various Indic epics, Dayak carving generally follows simpler lines. Glancing at the front of Nyoman’s old compound I noticed various sculptures in that style. At one point he had a small carving shop on Jalan Raya just opposite Jalan Gotama.

A few old carvings remain
A few old carvings remain

Nyoman maintained a variety of entrepreneurial interests from land to restaurants and even beading. In 1979 he and Silvio Sentosa opened Nomad’s Restaurant on the site of his carving shop.  Later it moved across the road to the corner of Gotama.

Nomad’s was the third restaurant opened in Ubud. He was an immensely resourceful person. When I saw most of him, in the period 1989 to 1994 he was chairman of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Gianyar Regency. Ten years later, in 2002 he began planning to establish an organic farm to supply Nomad restaurant with clean green products.

Starting with one hectare of land at Baturiti near Bedugul he had grown the operation to 6 hectares by 2004 and was producing methane as a fuel from 10 cattle grazing on the farm. He also established his own organic garden in Ubud, right by his compound and the small resort he developed alongside it. Years ago I remember him wanting to sell me a small parcel of land, he knew of my interest in the environment.  Actually sell is the wrong word, although he framed it this way. Foreigners may only lease land in Indonesia. I didn’t take him up on the offer.

In 2009 the Permaculture Research Institute produced this story on Nyoman. His passing left us with unfinished business of another kind.  Years earlier we had both confronted a mystery.  I suspect he held more parts of the puzzle than I, but over the years, with a little help, I worked it out even though a few pieces were still missing. Last time we chatted warmly beside the Wantilan I told him I knew the end of the story but it was only for his ears and that I’d tell him the next time we met.  Now the complete story will never be told.


#Bali goes ‘Clean and Green’, but hang on isn’t it supposed to be a green #paradise already?

In October, the Jakarta Post carried a story announcing Bali’s commitment to go green. The “Bali Clean and Green” program, is to involve all levels of government in Bali, provincial, regency and city, with additional support from the private sector and local residents. So, Bali is to become Indonesia’s first green province.

But wait a moment isn’t Bali already a green paradise? Certainly all the travel brochures and guides say it is. Films such as ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ make their own particular contribution to this verdant vision. So why the concern about a Green Bali? For the casual observer this sudden desire to ensure a green Bali might come as somewhat of a surprise, after all, there are pictures to prove it.

Rice terraces, Gunung Kawi, Tampaksiring, Bali, January, 2011.

So, what’s the reality. Well, Bali is certainly deserving of the global attention it receives. It remains a place of great beauty, but there is more to it than this. Delving a little deeper into the matter reveals a traditional culture rich with references and practices design to bring about harmony between humans and nature, one another and with God, sadly there is much taking place in Bali that’s systematically disrupting this fundamental principle of equilibrium. Indeed, a more complete answer would proffer the suggestion that if this basic Balinese philospphy of Tri Hita Karana were allowed free rein, as it was in the past, then the romantic constructions of the tourism copywriters and films could well be true. Unfortunately Bali has been moving steadily towards chaos in development.

Involution and equilibrium
Traditionally understandings of the environment were pre-scientific, representing a merging of the observed and the received knowledge, acknowledging the mysteries of dynamic environmental equilibrium and expressing them in symbolic and religious terms. What science might describe as the recycling of energy in the biosphere, Balinese tradition ascribed to Bhoma, half god half creature of the earth, having attributes that connect him with both Hindu god and earth. Bhoma’s face appears on the Kori Agung gateway between the middle and inner precinct of Balinese temples.

Bhoma carving from Puri Saren Agung, Ubud, Bali

The gateway symbolises the lower slopes of the holy mountain, Mahameru, which is covered with large trees. In simple terms Bhoma is a symbol of Bali’s trees and plants, but the entrance to the inner courtyard of a temple is also a place of transformations, a material space but also the place where people pray and have their most direct contact with the gods.

Almost everything used in traditional Balinese villages was biodegradable, it could be easily recycled after use. People conserved their resources and worked to keep their environment in balance. Transport was largely local and motor vehicles have only begun to appear in large numbers, over the past 30 years.

As a god of transformations Bhoma was central to this balance and harmony. In traditional Balinese society there was no need to understand the micro-ecological processes involved in the decay of leaves and food scraps, or the way soils are formed. These things were Niskala, all part of the unseen and magical work of the gods, a mystery. As the god of recycling this was primarily Bhoma’s responsiblty. Provided humans played their part, acting in harmony with nature, then natural processes remained intact and unimpeded, so all remained in equilibrium and Bhoma was free to carry out his work skimming across the earth and transforming rubbish into the food of life. Within this world, technology, the arts, architecture and building, agriculture, metal working and all of the other elements of everyday life developed through a process of involution, within the constraints that nature and tradition offered.

Bhoma confronts the new
Throughout history, Bali has been by no means isolated or completely insular. Balinese culture has Indic roots, with influences from Orissa and beyond. Other cultural influences have percolated into the island from SE Asia and China. Java’s Hindu Buddhist dynasties also played a major role.

In the first half of the 19th century change became quite rapid. Bali was occupied first by the Dutch and then by the Japanese. Following the war of independence, it became part of the Republic of Indonesia. Since the 1920s it has grown from a tourist playground, serving the rich and famous, to one of the world’s most popular mass tourist destinations. Tourism has become a compelling force for change, but not the only force for change.

Some 18 years ago, tourism to Bali was already strong, tourist arrivals in Indonesia exceeded 3 million per year and the overwhelming majority visited Bali. At that time the Indonesian Department of Tourism, Post and Telecommunications projected that visitor arrivals would increase to 5.4 million by 2000. Despite the set backs of Krismon and the Bali bombings, in bound tourism to Indonesia is still strong. If fewer Australians than expected are visiting Bali these days, in absolute terms the numbers are strong with over half a million visiting in 2010. If Australians are somewhat less enthusiastic about visiting Bali these days, their relative reluctance as tourists is being met by new arrivals from places such as Taiwan, Russia and a variety of European destinations. According to the Jakarta Post of 10 January, in Indonesia as a whole, “Foreign tourist arrivals are expected to show a remarkable 18.5 percent rise to 7.56 million for full year 2010, according to a recent report by Business Monitor International. The government also increased its forecast for arrivals from Europe for the year from 700,000 to 1 million, after an impressive first half, and with flights between Amsterdam and Jakarta by Indonesian flag carrier Garuda having recommenced in June.”

In Bali, along with tourism there has been a rapid development of industries like jewellery, clothing and woodcarving as well as a huge influx of Indonesians from places like East Java and Lombok.

New high yielding rice varieties combined with chemical fertilisers and new chemical pesticides have made it possible for farmers to grow three rice crops a year instead of two.

All of this has contributed to a very marked increase in wealth. This new wealth has added a whole range of new things to Bali’s environment. Cars and motor bikes now dominate many roads, plastic and aluminium are common place and the new agricultural chemicals flow through Bali’s intricate irrigation system.

Unfortunately Bhoma is not very good at recycling plastic, aluminium or the cocktail of chemicals that encountered in the waterways. For many traditional Balinese people these new products are outside their usual way of dealing with waste products.

Bali’s environmental challenges
The environmental challenges in Bali are:

* depletion of fresh water resources including the lowering of water tables;
* continuing pollution of water courses culverts and storm water drains with a variety of PVCs, principally plastic bags, disrupting infiltration of water,
interfering with flows and providing an unsightly litter;
* greatly increased volumes of vehicular traffic, leading to chronic traffic jams;
* alienation of agricultural lands, both sawah and ladang, with the construction of increasing numbers of hotels, guesthouses and bungalows; and,
* increasing use of fertilizers and pesticides to maintain yields in the face of shrinking rice lands and increasing demands for food from tourism.

Many, Balinese and foreigners alike are asking, how has this happened and what can we do about it?

Bali Clean and Green
The “Bali Clean and Green” program is part of the solution. In October the Jakarta Post reported that after declaring its commitment to “go green”, Bali is now aiming higher — it wants recognition as Indonesia’s first green province.

Anak Agung Gede Alit Sastrawan, the local environment office chief said a series of “road maps” and associated activities to help reach the goal are currently being prepared. The strategies aim at to making Bali clean, healthy and green by targeting three main themes — green culture, green economy and green environment, he said.

The program is to include initiatives for

* popularising organic farming;
* effective plastic waste disposal; and,
* environment-friendly investment policies.

“A draft detailing activities and targets will be included in the road map, which we are currently preparing,” Sastrawan said.

According to the Jakarta Post, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika hopes the road map would serve as another pillar of Bali’s future development, one that would prioritize environmental preservation and help make Bali Indonesia’s first green province.


This is just the first of several posts.

When first published, this post inadvertently quoted the Jakarta Post, without attribution. This was a mistake, the article formed part of my research notes and should not have been published. I sincerely apologise for this.

It’s always been my aim to write original material in these post and accompanying stories.

Subsequent posts will address these areas of environmental challenge, facing Bali:
* water resources;
* solid waste management;
* vehicular traffic;
* alienation of agricultural lands, both sawah and ladang; and,
* contemporary agricultural practices

This work is intended as a supportive comment. It arises from the observations of a frequent visitor to Bali, one who loves the island’s beauty, respects its people and their culture and has formed sound friendships with Balinese people, through both the good and the bad times, over many years.

I invite and welcome responses from my Balinese friends, or any Indonesian or Balinese readers, in particular. Such comment will be invaluable.