An auditing team from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation has been completing an assessment of Bali’s Batur Geopark. The teams arrived in Bali on Saturday 16th July and held a meeting with Governor Koster to discuss their plans for the week ahead.
Governor Koster told the Indonesian News Agency Antara ‘The presence of the UNESCO Global Geopark Assessor Team to re-validate the existence of the Global Geopark in Batur is a very important and meaningful visit for us in Bali Province because the validation of the Batur Geopark is very in line with the vision of Bali regional development’.
The team will be visiting and touring the Batur Geopark to ensure that development and protection goals are being met. They will also connect with the management team and the park’s staff to cover standard operating procedures and investigate whether the project’s programs are all running smoothly.
The UNESCO Batur Geopark is a hugely significant site and the UN’s guardianship over the area plays a huge part in Bali’s overall commitment to maintaining the cultural and environmental heritage of the island.
The Batur Geopark can be found in the northwest of Bali and is ranked as the most popular tourist destination in all of Indonesia, according to the UNESCO website. The park covers an area of 370.5 km2 and includes the sacred Mount Batur, Lake Batur, and 15 traditional villages.
The villages that sit within the boundaries of the Geopark are given support from UNESCO’s projects to conserve and preserve their unique cultural heritage. The Kintamani villages are found for their wooden crafts, bamboo, and wood carving.
The area is also famous for the Kintamani dog, Bali’s native breed of dog. Many of the island’s stray, pet, and community-owned dogs have some Kintamani genes in them. It is thought that the ancestors of the Kintamani Bali dog arrived on the island over 3,000 years ago and have been isolated as a breed ever since. This is partly why Bali is so strict on the importation of foreign dogs and has taken rabies outbreaks seriously.
UNESCO Global Geopark Assessor Nicholas Talbot Powe told local reporters that ‘Human nature and Balinese culture, especially in Batur, are truly unique, growing and being present there thanks to the creator as an extraordinary area that cannot be remade’. During the meeting with Governor Koster, the teams discussed how best to continue the commitment to maintaining the area. This included discussions about how to tackle pollution and vandalism within the park.
Governor Koster said ‘We have to organize and enforce policies to protect the sustainability of Lake Batur in a strict and consistent manner. Including Mount Batur must be maintained, because now many are climbing freely and there have been several accidents until someone died’. Both locals and visitors to Bali are reminded that taking a guided trek to the summit of Mount Batur is the safest and most sensible experience.
While the trail up Mount Batur is well trodden and signposted in places, there are areas of the trail that are dangerous without the support of a well-experienced guide. Due to the UNESCO-protected status of Mount Batur, there are also admission fees to pay to enter the park.
Following the meeting Governor Koster has ordered the Bangli Regency environmental department to design a master plan, in partnership with the UNESCO program teams, to carefully map out the next steps for the conservation of Mount Batur, Lake Batur, and the traditional villages. The plan will include how best to support local communities in preserving their culture, arts, tradition, and local wisdom.
The assessment of the UNESCO Batur Geopark is thought to have been happening throughout the week. After the positive meeting with Governor Koster, it can be safely assumed that the park will retain its UNESCO status which will help protect the biodiversity and cultural heritage of the area for many more years to come. It is hoped that the continued UNESCO status of Batur Geopark will help bring more tourists, both domestic and international to the area to learn more about Bali’s one-of-a-kind island life.
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