The Indonesian archipelago is home to the richest assortment of coral species in the world, but its reefs are vanishing as global warming, pollution and unsustainable fishing and tourism practices take their toll.
Indonesia’s appalling conservation record is well documented and it would be easy to write yet another article about imminent disaster; but I am sick of all the doom and gloom, because with destruction comes regeneration. While politicians and environmental agencies gather in endless global summits and engage in pointless debates about how to fix things, often the most effective change is happening at a grassroots level, and I knew that somewhere in Bali someone would be doing something to save the reefs.
I find my story in the north of the island, in a humble village that sits in the shadows of the mountains. Just meters off Pemuteran’s black sandy shore lies the Karang Lestari (Everlasting Reef) Project, one of the largest and most ambitious coral restoration projects in the world. A reef that had badly damaged is once again thriving due to a unique technology called Bio-Rock, which uses electric currents to stimulate the growth of coral.
All coral photographs courtesy of Rani E. Morrow-Wuigk
I have no idea what to expect, but this is unbelievable, a kind of futuristic underwater fantasy world. Fifty large steel structures span over 1000 feet and take the form of a caterpillar, a whale, an igloo, a dome, a tent, and a flower, all covered in a profusion of brightly coloured coral. Hundreds of tiny blue fish hover above the dome, bat fish flitter amidst the flowers. I see starfish, lionfish, a school of snapper and cheeky little Nemos everywhere. Soft pastel corals sway in the current and purple tipped table corals sprawl across the metal bars. The reef surrounding the structures is also thriving, everywhere I look I see life and vibrant colour. Natural power is the plan for future structures (which includes a Goddess rising from a lotus.) Reef Seen Aquatics Dive Center have already set things in motion, sponsoring two structures, a bio wreck and a giant turtle that are powered by solar panels. Continue reading →
The jungle rises steeply in front of us and we cross the river balanced precariously on a dug out canoe. The wall of dense green foliage looks impenetrable but a narrow, muddy trail has been carved out and the ranger leads us to a small clearing and a feeding platform. We only have to wait a couple of minutes before an orangutan comes swinging gracefully through the trees. It’s a female, and her scrawny baby clings on tightly as she stuffs bunches of bananas into her mouth and scoffs handfuls of milk from the rangers bucket. Continue reading →
Chocolate truffles at Alchemy, photograph courtesy Suki Zoe
A few years ago my friends had a ‘decadent dessert party’ and we all took along a dessert of our choice, not surprisingly there was a lot of chocolate – including my own triple chocolate cheesecake. What had started as a very chilled affair suddenly turned into a mad crazy night of dancing, Continue reading →
“The beauty of the Eco Lodge is that it can be enjoyed on so many levels , hide away from the world in a secluded mountain paradise, or put yourself out there as you immerse yourself in the nature, culture and community.”Continue reading →
They are handed out gleefully by cashiers the length and breadth of the island, used once and abandoned. Their fate − to float down rivers, ride the waves, wash up on the beaches or smolder in black smoky fires.…. In Bali there is no escaping plastic bags. But there is always hope, and a small company called Bombastic Plastix is hard at work turning plastic trash into funky fashion accessories.
Recycled products often get a bad wrap (no pun intended) because they are produced poorly with little thought for design. But Bombastic Plastix has turned recycling into an art form and their products – bags, purses, wallets, are attractive in their own right, regardless of their ‘greenness’. Let’s face it, most of us want to do our bit to save the planet but there is nothing wrong with looking good while we are doing it.
It all started a few years ago, on Bombastic founder, Sam Miller’s kitchen floor. He was a man on a mission, armed with an environmental conscience, a keen sense of design, a heap of plastic bags and an iron. Through trial and error he discovered a way to fuse plastic bags into sheets of plastic fabric, which form the base of all his products. “Its hardly like we are using all the plastic in the world,” he tells me, “but at least we are using some of it; and we are taking something that has a service life of 30 minutes and converting in into something that lasts years.”
Check out the website, its great fun and really informative, and you will love Sam – he is one super cool dude!
My latest writing job is doing environmental features for Insight Magazine – its a great mag and am really proud to write for them, it also creates some interesting work assignments. This is the soul surf project Bali, a Dutch foundation that works with orphanages here on the island. First the kids are given environmental classes and have to take part in beach clean ups. Armed with greater awareness of the environment and their impact on it, the kids are rewarded with surf lessons and the chance to participate in surf competitions, turtle releases and art workshops.
I spend the morning on the beach with a group of kids, its their first surf lesson and they are pretty excited and there is lots of laughter and splashing about. The girls are shy at first but are soon riding waves with as much enthusiasm as the boys; everyone encourages each other. Marieke, the project manager and I watch from the shallows, she tells me “Surfing provides the orphans with an escape from their normal routine and creates a sense of accomplishment, of yes I can do this.” One of the boys whizzes past us, catching a wave right to the shore and we all cheer as he does a little victory dance.