The Bali Post reports that the rice terraces of Jatiluwih may be under threat of losing their UNESCO World Heritage status due to the property grab now underway that is destroying the local environment.
Sounding the warning is the chairman of the Tabanan House of Representatives (DPRD-Tabanan), Ketut “Boping” Suryadi.
Speaking on Tuesday, January 29, 2013, “Boping” said he has heard many complaints regarding the influx of investors at Jatiluwih and the elimination of traditional farmlands by new developments.
The lawmaker is concerned that if the condition of Jatiluwih continues to decline, UNESCO might eventually revoke the World Heritage Site status.
To avoid the loss of World Heritage Site status, the DPRD-Tabanan is working to include the Jatiluwih area in “green zone” areas under the regional zoning laws, protecting it from over-development.
Under UNESCO rules, the status and condition of each world heritage site must be audited and reviewed once every five years.
Local officials eager to protect the agricultural character of Jatiluwih insist that traditional agricultural lands can only be protected if farmers are allocated a fair share of Bali’s tourism revenues to help sustain their way of life.
Observers say that most land purchased thus far by investors at Jatiluwih has been limited to plantation lands, with the region’s rice terraces as yet untouched by investors. Many fear, however, that it is only a matter of time before investors’ attention turns to the rice terraces, unless steps are taken to legally protect these areas.
The number of farmers in the Jatiluwih area number 395 cultivating land that covers 303 hectares spread across 7 subak (water irrigation) districts.
Since the establishment of the World Heritage Area at Jatiluwih, agricultural lands have been designated as sustainable lands by the government that cannot be sold or built upon.
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