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The Karang Lestari Foundation: Artfully Restoring Coral Reefs in Pemuteran Bay
In 2010, there was a flurry on the internet due to a photo documentation of underwater sculptures believed to be part of an ancient temple site. The photo drew massive attention when it was posted on Twitter with a caption mentioning it as proof of the discovery of an ancient underwater archaeological site on the seabed of Pemuteran in Northwest Bali. Paul M. Turley, later known as the photographer of the controversial photo, explained that the online media had just led on the birth of an urban legend since the photo he took as underwater photographer was not that of an ancient temple site as rumored. It seems that someone had taken his photo and posted it on Twitter with wrong captions.
What was considered a photo of ancient ruins turned out to be a protected area of coral reefs in a restoration project founded in 2000 by The Karang Lestari Foundation in collaboration with the Global Coral Reef Alliance. Located in Pemuteran Bay—precisely in the village of Pemuteran, Gerokgak District, in the Buleleng regency, Bali— the Karang Lestari conservation and restoration project covers approximately 2 acres of conservation area and is said to be the largest, the longest running and the best coral reef restoration project worldwide.
Dozens of large stone sculptures and a traditional Balinese gate with a heigh of 4 feet were planted at a depth of 29 meters underwater to restore the devastated reef and to nurse back baby corals. In 2006, in the second phase of construction, an underwater art gallery was successfully built at a depth of 15 meters so that novice divers can also enjoy the beauty of this intriguing underwater art park. One of the sculptures named Coral Goddess designed by Celia Gregory—founder of the non-profit organization, The Marine Foundation—was the first structure in the project. The spot where it stands is today one of the most popular dive sites at Pemuteran.
In addition to the sculptures and typical Balinese gate, there are more than 56 iron structures functioning as medium for coral reefs growth. Some of the iron structures display the name of a person who supports the project by donating a sum of money. Interestingly, donors will periodically receive photographs showing the growth of their coral reefs.
This restoration project at Pemuteran executes the Electrolytic Mineral Accretion Technology (Biorock™) of Hilbertz and Goreau for coral nurseries. Biorock is a method that takes advantage of a gentle electrical charge to accelerate coral growth and survival rate. Thus, the healthy coral reefs invite fish and other marine biota to live and grow in a healthy ecosystem. The system is also economically effective to protect the coast from erosion since various energy scales can be set as needed.
The project is run in collaboration with the government of Pemuteran, Gahawisri (Bali marine tourism federation), scientists, conservationists, hotels, dive shops, and a number of investors and donors. As this project is community-based, the people of Pemuteran are also invited and encouraged to actively become involved in the project. The people of Pemuteran—who are mostly fishermen—are encouraged not to catch fish with tools that can damage the marine ecosystems. In addition, they ar also forbidden to fish along the Pemuteran beach fronts of hotels, that are designated as special areas for ecotourism where Biorocks are planted. The damage to coral reefs in Pemuteran Bay was fairly severe due to the people’s habit of using dynamite and cyanide to catch fish. The damage was compounded by pollution, global warming, and tourism activities.
Today, the project in Pemuteran Beach draws eco tourists from all over the world to come and witness its success and of course to enjoy the stunning beauty of diverse coral reefs, schools of fishe, other marine biota as well as the impressive underwater art sculptures.
The Karang Lestari Foundation is today recognized for its outstanding success in promoting local sustainable development solutions for nature, people and communities. It was one of 25 recipients from 812 nominees from 113 countries who actively participated in the environmental and community issues. The organization was awarded about US$5,000 last 20 June 2012. The Award was presented by Helen Clark, UNDP administrator, to I Gusti Agung Prana, representative of the Karang Lestari Foundation during the Equator Initiative gala event at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In addition, the Karang Lestari Foundation also won the UNDP Special Award for marine and coastal zone management.
The Karang Lestari Foundation was established since 1998 by I Gusti Agung Prana, the representative of the Foundation and owner of the Taman Sari Resort at Pemuteran Beach. This Foundation was founded by sounding a mission to build awareness of the communities about the importance to preserve the bounty of the sea for their future life as well as for prospective ecotourism and fisheries that can generate sustainable income for the community.
For more information please visit the website below.
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