Artivist, observes and reports on developments in the Bali and Indonesian art scenes
Bali’s ecoconsciousness revolution has over the past two decades progressed from obscurity to now being an essential focus of the island’s population. With the dramatic collapse of Bali's tourism, which supports over 60 percent of its economy, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable economic solutions are immediately required.
The good news is that the steadily growing efforts of more and more individuals and small yet committed grassroots communities provide viable solutions and are making a positive impact. Projects from organic farming to reforestation, waste management, sustainable building practices and an array of community and individual education and empowerment initiatives offer hope during this time of crisis. Key to the success of these projects is sound long-term collective visions that respect the natural environment and reassess the use of resources while meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their requirements.
A new initiative in Buleleng regency on the north coast of the island, North Bali Eco Hub (NBEH), has a broad-ranging vision. It also sets out to consolidate upon and fast track Bali’s ecoconscious revolution. Located in Bondalem village, west of Tejakula district, the hub has been years in the making and is the culmination of both local and international organizations. Its programs provide for trash management, environmental conservation, education, regional village-based tourism and local agricultural development.
Affiliated with international nonprofit ROLE (Rivers, Oceans, Land, Ecology) Foundation located in Nusa Dua, NBEH's other objective is to create an online directory of information for all clean and green sustainable groups in Bali and other parts of Indonesia. The dynamic interactive virtual platform aims to promote a collaborative culture of networking and the exchange of information, functioning to develop Bali's growing ecoconscious community.
The goal is for the NBEH to serve as a reference source for all levels of society, including industry and government, promoting and recommending through the broad, collective knowledge and information, solutions to Bali's sustainability issues.
“Our immediate priorities are to support the well-being of the local farmers and domestic waste management, so that our village is both clean and healthy,” said Kadek Ada Maja, project manager of the Bondalem Eco Village Community Group, a part of the EHNB project.
“The first step in realizing our priorities is the recently opened waste treatment plant set on a 500-square-meter site provided by the Bondalem village administration. The plant, which currently employs five full-time local staff, promotes the awareness of socially responsible garbage management, and to inspire the villagers to be active participants in the project.
“The plant, a first of its kind on the north coast of Bali, involves three levels of local government, involving cooperation between the village to the subdistrict of Tejakula, and the regency administration of Buleleng. The plants initial funding was secured from the international England environmental foundation WasteAid through ROLE.
“The treatment site features a covered workspace for garbage processing upon newly purchased tables. The garbage is washed and sorted into organic and recycled waste, and organic waste is processed into compost, which is packaged and locally sold. The non-organic waste, especially paper, plastic bottles and bags and glass items, are washed and prepared for recycling.”
Piet van Zyl, sustainability advisor of the ROLE Foundation, recently purchased two locally constructed recycling machines; one for crushing glass and the other shredding plastic bags and bottles that were donated to the Bondalem Eco Village Community Project in July.
The crushed glass is sold to be mixed with concrete for paving and decorative floors in building projects throughout Bali. At the same time, the shredded plastic is purchased by a manufacturer in Singaraja, the capital city of the Buleleng regency, which then produces various items, including furniture, thus providing income streams enabling self-sufficiency of the project.
ROLE contributes to the management of the hub, providing administration training while working with the village administration to educate how village tourism can be a viable alternative to opening hotels in the area. Education for both adults and children, along with the administration, also covers the topics of ecology and waste management.
The NBEH concept began in 2015 as discussions between one of Bali’s original eco-warriors and the initiator of the R.O.L.E. Foundation, Australian expat Mike O’Leary (1957-2019); Australian expat resident of Bondalem, Matthew Ellks; and the Bondalem village administration. These discussions led to the proposal for the establishment of the Bondalem Eco Village with the priorities of managing garbage, develop an organic farming system and village tourism.
On June 17, members of the Bondalem village administration, Ellks and a dozen other people attended a special demonstration of the recycling equipment and a tour of ROLE’s Community Environment Skills Center in Nusa Dua. The purpose of the visit was to see how the new recycling machinery operates before being handed over to the Bondalem administration.
In July, the NBEH opened a multipurpose eco hub, located on the main road in Bondalem. The destination functions as an information center staffed by the hub’s local office administration, a retail outlet to sell local organic produce from across the north Bali coastal region, a café and meeting space.
Educational and promotional information is a crucial aspect; on the wall is a television screen with videos explaining various facets of the NBEH along with other printed material. The coffee shop serves well-priced locally grown coffee and snacks, providing tables and chairs, allowing people to meet and work. The intention is for the venue to evolve into a meeting space for like-minded locals and foreigners, to promote discourse and the successful development of ecoprojects on the north coast of Bali.
“There is good potential for village tourism development on the north coast of Bali. The region boasts excellent diving and snorkeling, mountain trekking and beautiful natural attractions including waterfalls,” said Ellks, who is a volunteer project manager at the NBEH.
“The plan is for the local administration to cap the number of villas that function as rental properties in the area. Homestays will then be established to provide a local tourism-based model promoting Balinese traditions as a selling point to a different sector of tourism.” (kes)
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