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Bali's Disappearing Jungles

Bali's Forestry Chief Concerned that Shrinking Forest Areas are Depleting Fertility and Adding to the Island's Water Shortage.

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According to a report in Tempo Interaktif, 10,000 hectares of a total 130,686 hectare of jungle land has been lost to farming over the past several decades.

"Much jungle land has been converted to growing bananas, grass, cocoa, flowers, coffee and vanilla," explained the Head of Bali's forestry Department, Made Sulendra.

According to Sulendra, the conversion of jungle lands results in a lessened soil fertility and the loss of these lands as areas of water retention. The forestry expert blames this unfortunate situation on the lack of clarity in Bali land use and zoning planning (RTRW).

He added, "our problem is one of law enforcement and the many (conflicting) interests in how our forests are used," citing investment and the welfare of local populations near forests as just some of these competing pressures.

In addition to the conversion of jungle land to other uses, he reported that every year approximately 350 hectares of land is burnt, primarily affecting areas in which pine forests and elephant grass are found. Sulendra blamed the fires on careless smokers, open fires and intentional burning of forested areas.

Sulendra said that, fortunately, illegal logging in Bali had yet to reach a serious level.

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