ON ONE MAN’S EFFORT TO SUPPORT SUSTAINABILITY
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.