A tale of change across South­east Asia

Action Asia - - CALLS TO ACTION -

Across the South China Sea, two no­table projects are help­ing to re­store the bio­di­ver­sity and beauty of the is­lands and the com­mu­ni­ties that live on them. Ac­tion Asia spoke to Pro­ject Clean Uluwatu in Indonesia and Song Saa Foun­da­tion in Cam­bo­dia to find out more about the root of the prob­lem and how these or­gan­i­sa­tions are tack­ling the is­sue through sus­tain­able tourism. Cur­tis Lowe, the di­rec­tor of Pro­ject Clean Uluwatu told us how the sur fing mecca in Indonesia is slowly turn­ing into a model of sus­tain­abil­ity in which con­sci­en­tious surfers from all around the world can par­tic­i­pate. Mean­while, Wayne Mccallum from Song Saa Foun­da­tion shed some light on how the foun­da­tion cre­ated the first trop­i­cal ma­rine con­ser­va­tion cen­tre in the coun­try and its plan to en­gage both lo­cal stake­hold­ers and vol­un­teers from abroad.

What are some of the prob­lems that trig­gered the need to cre­ate and launch your pro­ject? Cur­tis Lowe: The aim of Pro­ject Clean Uluwatu (PCU) is to re­store and pre­serve Uluwatu - one of the most renowned and iconic surf breaks in the world. How­ever, in­ad­e­quate waste man­age­ment in­fra­struc­ture was a ma­jor is­sue as it failed to ac­com­mo­date the in­flux of tourists and con­se­quently the ef­fects of in­creased waste. The frag­ile ecosys­tem fur­ther de­te­ri­o­rated due to the lack of en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity. Since 2011, PCU has worked with the lo­cal com­mu­nity to ad­dress these en­vi­ron­men­tal threats and pro­vide en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able so­lu­tions to in­creas­ing rub­bish and liq­uid waste man­age­ment prob­lems in Uluwatu. In 2 0 1 4 , we i nst a l l e d a Li quid Waste Man­age­ment Sys­tem, link­ing a l l war ungs t o a c e nt r a l bio­pro­cess­ing tank, rid­ding the sur­round­ing ecosys­tem a nd o c e a n of p ol l ut a nt s and tox­ins. Wa­ter f rom the bio­pro­cess­ing tank is fur­ther pu­ri­fied by a se­ries of waste­water gar­dens. Now, our com­post­ing pro­gram pro­cesses all solid or­ganic waste and con­verts the waste into nu­tri­ent rich or­ganic fer­til­izer for our com­mu­nity gar­dens.

Wayne Mccallum: There has been an enor­mous growth in aware­ness of the ma­rine world and the op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­serve it, across the Koh Rong ar­chi­pel­ago, amongst both vis­i­tors and the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties as a re­sult of our work. The Ar­chi­pel­ago is chang­ing rapidly and it is en­cour­ag­ing to see as­pects of our con­ser­va­tion and com­mu­nity mes­sages be­ing car­ried into the de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties of lo­cal busi­nesses and in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ers.

How d o e s P CU e n g a g e w i t h t h e l o c a l com­mu­nity and what are their re­sponses like? CL: The restora­tion of Uluwatu to a more nat­u­ral state and our gar­den ini­tia­tives al­ready re­ceive pos­i­tive feed­back. Our ef­forts set the prece­dent of how to get the lo­cal com­mu­nity and vis­i­tors in­volved in work­ing to­wards a so­lu­tion re­gard­ing waste man­age­ment and the en­vi­ron­ment. Over the next few years we would like to see the en­tire pro­ject taken over by the lo­cals - as of now our best part­ners are the Lo­cal Warung As­so­ci­a­tion, which we help set up years ago so that all the warung own­ers could speak as one, and the Uluwatu Board Rid­ers Club. The lo­cal board rid­ers are re­ally the nat­u­ral fit for this, as it's their beach and they care about it as much as any­one. We have some sup­port from the lo­cal gov­ern­ment, but it is more moral than fi­nan­cial. At the be­gin­ning, we were lucky not to have too much gov­ern­ment in­ter­fer­ence, as they would have wanted... the money. Now, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment is more un­der­stand­ing and we do see them help­ing more and more. We'd like to help the lo­cal gov­ern­ment set up good in­fra­struc­ture for waste man­age­ment in the en­tire area. Of course there have been a few mis­con­cep­tions about for­eign surfers com­ing in to dic­tate lo­cal poli­cies, but usu­ally it's phrased more as we're sick of for­eign­ers telling us what to do and now you're telling us what to do with our trash too... but that has faded out as the re­sults speak for them­selves. Ev­ery­one is stoked on the progress we have made, and we've done with the help of pro­gres­sive and car­ing lo­cals.

How does the ma­rine cen­tre op­er­ate and what is the vol­un­teer re­cruit­ment process like? WM: The sus­tain­abil­ity cen­tre has a train­ing pro­gramme and hires in­terns for pi­o­neer­ing re­search on Cam­bo­dia's ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment. The pro­gramme has only been op­er­at­ing for 14 months, so it is too early to say whether we have re­peated vol­un­teers. How­ever, we do get a lot of in­quiries from peo­ple who, have ei­ther read com­ments on so­cial me­dia from in­di­vid­u­als who have vol­un­teered with is, or from friends and as­so­ci­ates of peo­ple who have vol­un­teered with the Foun­da­tion's Trop­i­cal Ma­rine Con­ser­va­tion Pro­gramme. Our vol­un­teer tar­get - young adults, just out of uni­ver­sity, po­ten­tially look­ing at a ca­reer in ma­rine con­ser­va­tion, is not the same as the tar­get guest for Song Saa Pri­vate Is­land. How­ever, we do re­ceive in­quiries from the young friends and chil­dren of peo­ple who have stayed at the re­sort. Fur­ther, we re­ceive a con­stant stream of emails from peo­ple who would like to vol­un­teer with the Foun­da­tion. In the past we did not have an out­let for this, but through a ded­i­cated pro­gramme we now have a place and op­por­tu­nity to di­rect them to.

Where are most of the surfer vol­un­teers from and what is the ul­ti­mate goal for PCU? CL: We have surfers from all over the world c om­ing a nd v o lu nt e e r i ng n ow - a nd we have an in­tern­ship pro­gram too. Kids from Brazil, Hol­land, France, Sin­ga­pore, and next, Switzer­land, come to work with PCU and re­ceive Uni­ver­sity credit. Build­ing on the theme of com­mu­nity pride, we plan to one day, turn Uluwatu Surf Break, with its as­so­ci­ated ma­rine and land ecosys­tems, into a pris­tine and healthy World Surf­ing Re­serve for the ben­e­fit of the coastal com­mu­nity for present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. We hope to cre­ate a model of suc­cess and com­mu­nity pride that other beaches in Bali can look to for in­spi­ra­tion.

AA

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