Destinations in Indonesia
The Jatiluwih Rice Fields: a UNESCO Cultural Landscape, from Bali for the World
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Marketplace in Bali2
Set in the heart of the Tabanan Regency in Bali, the Jatiluwih rice fields have been named a UNESCO Cultural Landscape, part of Bali’s Subak System. The vast expanses of terraced, green rice paddies are stepped along an entire mountain, from its peak to where its foot meets the sea. The fields that make up this area have adopted the traditional Subak irrigation system – a method that has been preserved for centuries and passed down from generation to generation. Aside from its agricultural development, this panoramic landscape has also established itself as a tourist destination and is among the top 10 visited places on the island.
Unfortunately, this lush and beautiful scene does not always carry good news for the local community. With both government and private companies wanting to utilize the land for other purposes, residents are faced with the question of who will maintain this cultural site and preserve the heritage of the Subak irrigation, not to mention the natural beauty of the landscape.
On October 31, 2013, Dusun Gunung Sari, Speaker of the House of Representatives, affirmed in a speech to the Tabanan community that Marzuki Usman would defend Jatiluwih as an important cultural reserve. He further stated that the natural resources produced by Jatiluwih as well as Jatiluwih’s part played in the tourism sector were crucial to Bali.
Currently, Bali is the measuring stick of tourism across the country, and together with West Nusatenggara and East Nusatenggara, plays an essential role in the Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development. The program is set to bring rapid development in various fields, but for areas such as the Jatuluwih Reserve, the program may pose more of a threat rather than an opportunity.
Azwir Malaon, Director for Development of Tourist Attraction from The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy highlights that this interdependence should remain balanced in accordance with the Tri Hita Karana, or The Three Sources of Harmony. Furthermore, the local community is advised against random and illegal clearing of the land for the purpose of developing it as a commercial area. The development problems that are being faced in South Bali can still be prevented from happening in Tabanan if caught from the start and with sufficient oversight and law enforcement.
While development of hotels and other commercial buildings is not illegal, it must be done within the boundaries of the law and in accordance with the predetermined masterplan. The needs of the local community must also be taken into account, and should the development plan go against the will of the people, the development permits should be reconsidered.
The law of the land states that the highest principle in any decision is the welfare of the people. This is an umbrella term that encompasses every sector and applies to every person to ensure balance in the community and that every citizen has his or her needs met.
Jatiluwih, in the Balinese dialect, is translated to mean Beautiful Teak. This stunning stretch of rice fields is located in the Tabanan District, lies about 40 kilometers from Denpasar, or about 2 hours by road. One of the areas of interest in the area is the Gunungsari Orchard. Located near the coast, at an altitude of 640 meters above sea level, the cool mountain air merges with the warm sea breeze. From atop the hill, visitors can take in the fresh air, appreciate the scenic views, and relax in the calming atmosphere. Each of the carefully carved terraces can be seen together with the intricate system of irrigation paths running in between. Whether for agriculture, nature or heritage, Jatiluwih remains a site that should be preserved and must remain sustainable for future generations.
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