Academics and professionals have been expressing concerns for a long time.
A spatial planning analyst warned that development projects in green areas in Bali were growing at an alarming rate and threatened not only the local ecology but also productive farmland.
The situation has not been helped by the fact that the local administration lacked a clear overview of its spatial planning, Rumawan Salain of Udayana University said Tuesday.
“Land conversion has grown rapidly. Protected areas are being encroached upon in the interests of tourism and other businesses,” he told Bali Daily.
In recent years, analysts estimated that land conversion on the island was as high as 1,000 hectares per year.
“The figure must have increased now, but changes in land use are not well recorded,” Rumawan said, adding that the local administration should collect data on land conversion to ensure control.
He said that around 65 percent of Bali was classed as protected areas and productive farmland where development is not allowed.
“What we are concerned about is that, despite this, many of these areas have been converted,” he said, citing the area around Buyan and Tamblingan Lake as examples.
Uncontrolled land conversion in some parts of Bali has resulted in ecological imbalance and degradation, he added.
Rumawan urged all regency administrations in Bali to complete the spatial planning master plan and enforce it.
Development on the edges of cliffs is also a major concern.
“There should be a safe distance between the building and the edge of the cliff. The distance is equal to the height of the cliff,” Rumawan explained.
Wayan Suteja, chairman of the Bali Villa Association (BVA), shared a similar view, saying that according to the spatial planning rules, building on cliff edges was not allowed.
However, developers often built properties right on the edge to make the most of their plots.
“They want to make the most of the area because the land price is expensive,” he said.
Over the last few years, many investors have bought up cliff areas in Badung regency to build accommodation that offers ocean views.
“This started several years ago and is a rising trend. Hotels, villas and resorts were built to attract guests that want a serene and private stay,” said Rai Suryawijaya, chairman of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) for Badung.
Suryawijaya said that this trend had increased land prices, particularly if a luxury resort was present.