PRESERVING PE­MUTERAN

ON ONE MAN’S EF­FORT TO SUP­PORT SUS­TAIN­ABIL­ITY

hellobali - - WHERE THERE'S A WILL -

One of my favourite jour­neys is the one I make com­ing home to Bali, an is­land which is a huge part of my life. I use ev­ery op­por­tu­nity I can to dig deeper into the cul­ture, dis­cov­er­ing more about the ways of the is­land, and de­vel­op­ing solid, mean­ing­ful part­ner­ships with peo­ple who share a vi­sion for the fu­ture of Bali built on sus­tain­able growth, on bal­ance and re­ward.

As a tourist desti­na­tion, Bali has al­ways cre­ated con­tro­versy. Dis­agree­ments over how to make the most of its beauty and nat­u­ral re­sources are con­stant, with the younger gen­er­a­tion ques­tion­ing the re­sults of de­ci­sions made by their par­ents. But that is get­ting ahead of my­self! I’m a vis­i­tor in many re­spects, so I’m not about to come out swing­ing with what I think is best for the is­land. How­ever, I have had the great for­tune to work with some amaz­ing vi­sion­ar­ies, Ba­li­nese men and women who have se­ri­ously con­sid­ered how to re­tain the magic that keeps Bali in the hearts of its vis­i­tors.

One of those peo­ple is I Gusti Agung Prana, who prefers to be called Pak Gung­wah. With­out his vi­sion, I don’t know if Pe­muteran would have sur­vived.

It was only 20 years ago that Pe­muteran was a small un­der-re­sourced vil­lage on Bali’s north-west coast. Its lo­ca­tion on the far side of the moun­tain ranges makes it dry, and the soil poor, and so most fam­i­lies were de­pen­dant on the ocean for their in­come. Times were hard, the com­mu­nity was see­ing an in­flux of peo­ple from other is­lands in search of a bet­ter life, and the de­mand on the fish­ing in­dus­try to pro­vide more fish was en­cour­ag­ing dy­na­mite and cyanide fish­ing. This was a disas­ter for the reef. Fish stocks be­came de­pleted and the in­dus­try even­tu­ally col­lapsed. To make mat­ters worse, the young peo­ple were not in­ter­ested in be­ing farm­ers and were mov­ing away. The tra­di­tional ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems and rice fields were crum­bling due to ne­glect. All in all, the sit­u­a­tion looked grim.

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