Bali Cultural Heritage Management Board takes precautionary steps

The Bali Cultural Heritage Management Board plans to issue a detailed master plan for the management of the island's newly declared world heritage sites to prevent any excessive exploitation in these important areas. I Wayan Alit Artha Wiguna, chairman of the board, stated that there would be three zones to be strictly protected under the new master plan. The first zone covered the most protected sites; the second zone comprised restricted areas, while the third zone comprised certain areas that could still be developed for various utilities.

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Construction Restricted

Bali Cultural HeritageWiguna elaborated that the first zone covered the main temple and courtyard sites; lakes or water resources, and rice fields. "No one can build in the first zone. This is a zero-construction area. We are very cautious about news and information that some investors are already eying these areas to develop numerous tourist-related facilities making their backdrop the precious world heritage sites," Wiguna said. The master plan will be issued soon to strictly protect the three zones from greedy investors.

The second zone covers areas that can be developed, but with stringent limitations in terms of land use, architectural design and operations. The third zone will be declared a free area for the development of hotels, accommodation and tourist establishments.

With UNESCO declaring Jatiluwih subak area in Tabanan, Taman Ayun Temple in Badung and Pakerisan watershed in Gianyar, as world heritage sites, investors have been trying hard to find land and sites located nearby to build their properties.

"There will be so many conflicting problems ahead. Unfortunately, we don't have the power to enforce and monitor the implementation of the master plan. It will be under the authority of the regional administration," he said.

The Cultural Heritage Management Board consists of experts from the agricultural and tourism sectors. It also has members from traditional subak organizations, academics and people from other related Institutions.

In addition to the management of the three heritage zones, it was also crucial to ensure the sustainability of farms and to support local farmers, he said. "Regeneration of farming is important for the continuity of agriculture in Bali. Infrastructure improvement is also important," he added.

The Gianyar and Tabanan administrations have already planned to offer protection to the sites and to offer property and land tax subsidies to encourage farmers to preserve and maintain their rice fields and land that fall within the UNESCO heritage lists.

Separately, Gianyar Regent Tjokorda Artha Ardana Sukawati, said that the policy was expected to improve the living conditions of the farmers and, at the same time, to preserve the regency's priceless natural heritage.

The Pakerisan watershed was included in this year's UNESCO world heritage sites, together with Jatiluwih subak sites, Batukaru Mountain reserve in Tabanan, the royal temple Pura Taman Ayun in Mengwi, Badung regency, and Lake Batur in Bangli.

The Pakerisan watershed is home to numerous majestic archaeological sites along the river — including the Gunung Kawi royal tombs of ancient Balinese royalty and Tirta Empul water spring temple. "The tax subsidy will just be one of our policies to preserve our natural heritage and it is a real follow-up action from the local government to protect it," explained the regent.

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