Menjangan Island Coral Reef Conservation
Menjangan Island lies off Bali’s northwest shore and is sacred with four Hindu temples and a statue of Ganesha, the god of new beginnings. People come from all over Bali on holy days to make offerings and prayers at the temples. Its fringing coral reef is unusual, almost a diversity anomaly for the region, with a wealth of hard corals, sea fans and soft corals.
On paper, the reefs are protected since they lie within Bali Barat National Park (BBNP), but in actuality, they are suffering from an array of negative impacts, such as anchor damage, over-fishing, trash, and climate change. To address these challenges, Biosphere Foundation (BF),Yayasan Dwi Asih Sejaherta (a local NGO), and BBNP initiated Friends of Menjangan (a community movement) to protect and preserve the Menjangan Island reefs and the surrounding bioregion. In support of this long-term program, BF engaged Pak Nono Suparono and Pak Ketut Sutama who are both Nature Guides for BBNP.
In 2011, BF collaborated with Dr. Phil Dustan (College of Charleston) and scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society to conduct the first baseline study about the overall health of the reef. Please see our two papers about these studies published in Atoll Research Bulletin and PLOS one. A poster about the change in the reef was presented at ALSO 2017 Ocean Sciences Meeting – it illustrates the change over the course of one year due to the 2016 El Nino and climate change event. The data pointed to an “ecological tipping point” that can be seen by studying the interfependence between fish and coral communities accross a continum of reef degradation. This data was presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, 2014.
In May-July, 2016, Biosphere Foundation completed a second study of the reef which coincided with a worldwide bleaching. The results of this research will be published in 2017. Please see Earth Focus – Vanishing Coral : A film about our findings and our NW Bali project, which was produced by Earth Focus for Earth Day – 2017.
Our studies indicate that one of the greatest threats is anchor damage by both local visitors coming to the islands temples and tourists/divers. In response to the concern of increasing visitors, and thus anchor damage, Biosphere Foundation initiated a Mooring Buoy Program in 2012 with local divers and Bali Barat Nature Guides, Nono Suparno and Ketut Sutama. These eco-warriors visit Menjangan 12 times a year to install new mooring buoys, repair old mooring buoys,and remove trash, crown of thorns star fish and Drupella snails. There are now 33 mooring buoys around Menjangan which are maintained – you can follow their progress on Facebook.
Both Nono and Sutama are inspiring hundreds of other local people to join their conservation efforts and new movements are springing up in the region to protect coastlines adjacent to the Park. Biosphere Foundation additionally works with Putri Menjangan, a Nature Forum for reefs and mangroves, and Alam Lestari, a mangrove restoration project, to support mangrove restoration, reef stewardship and an ecological method to treat the wastewater from a nearby shrimp farm. Additionally, we are working with Putri Menjangan to transplant broken living coral fragments (from anchor and human damage) back onto the reef using local cement.
Like many movements around the world, the people of NW Bali understand the important of protecting and stewarding their natural resources in order to make a difference to the health of their environment. Together we carryout educational programs for local schools and host Earth Day events which include trash clean-ups, mangrove planting, and song & dance for nature. Please see Menjangan ~ A Music Video which was performed at Earth Day in 2016. This music video, performed by local musicians and high school dancers n Bahasa Indonesia, is about not throwing trash in the ocean.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed individuals can change the world.
Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”
– Margaret Mead