What’s Gili Trawangan?
Gili Trawangan has been known for a couple of decades as a remote island paradise. Pristine beaches, beautiful weather and sensational diving are available year-round. This makes it a much sought-after pocket of paradise, attracting tourists year in year out.
But, as everywhere else on earth, the island is currently facing some big changes. Climate change and pollution have been threatening most places on earth. Remote islands are most at risk of rising sea levels and rising temperatures.
We’re going to take a look at some of the proactive conservation projects currently in place on the island. These efforts are making Gili Trawangan better and stronger than ever before.
What about the waste?
In many parts of South East Asia, proper waste management has not been a priority. On top of this, developed countries from Europe, USA and Australia have been exploiting lax regulations across the region. This means a lot of waste ends up in the waterways.
Yet in 2019, Malaysia, China, the Philippines and Indonesia began to put serious efforts into tackling the issue. This move was supported by those running conservation projects in Gili Trawangan.
The Gili Eco Trust is home to Gili Trawangan’s resident conservation experts. They collect as much waste as possible from the major businesses on the island. Due to its isolated position in the ocean, waste management is hard to keep on top of. Their ‘zero waste to landfill’ initiative is a project run by 23 local staff, organising waste. This project ensures that waste reaches the appropriate destination in Indonesia.
Further, the Gili Eco Trust is creating an integrated waste facility. Aside from further reducing the island's pollution, it also provides vital jobs for around 50 locals.
Who’s helping out?
Manta Dive Gili Trawangan is one of the island’s main dive shops. And like many shops on the island, we have supported the Gili Eco Trust in projects for years. Not only on the land but also in the waters which attract avid divers from across the globe.
What’s happened to the reef?
Rising temperatures in the ocean have led to the symbiotic algae being dispelled from coral reefs, leading to something called ‘coral bleaching’. Most reefs worldwide are already either threatened or damaged from this phenomenon. In 2010, Gili Trawangan was surrounded by vibrant reefs. They were affected by some large areas being bleached.
In retaliation, four years ago, Delphine of the Gili Eco Trust headed up a project alongside dive shops such as Manta Dive Gili Trawangan. The project saw the construction and implementation of Bio Rock structures. They targeted some of the most damaged areas of the reef.
The Bio Rock structure is a steel frame which gives corals the best environment to grow. They generate at a rapid rate, whilst still being healthy. A low voltage electrical current is sent through the structure. This makes conditions perfect for hard corals allowing them to grow eight times faster than normal.
The rapid success has been imperative to the restoration of certain dive sites. The project aims to become 100% sustainable within the next 2-5 years. To do this they will be harnessing the power of current based resources. This is an ambitious target for an organisation run off donations.
What other conservation projects?
As we enter 2020, Manta Dive Gili Trawangan has also announced the start of a large campaign. It’s set to aid conservation projects across Indonesia over the next decade.
The project is aiming to tackle conservation challenges with both short and long term goals in place. From supporting renewable energy companies to offering the first licensed reef-safe sunscreen.
It is through this tourism that organisations like Gili Eco Trust can get donations. Visiting paradise and seeing the wonders that live in the waters around the island serve as an incredible motivation. It’s a reminder to protect this beautiful planet we all share.
And what about those in charge?
The local Marine Government have also recently improved their efforts. They are working closer with the Gili Eco Trust. The addition of a brand new pier is set to prevent illegal anchoring. This is an issue which is currently damaging many reef structures surrounding the island.
The project has been commended by the Gili Eco Trust, as it is another step forward in protecting this idyllic part of Indonesia.
Give us some air
Back on land, and another project which is advancing at a rapid rate, is the mass planting of 7,000 tree seeds. In six months, over 2,000 have reached maturity. These are in the process of being organised for distribution, not only on Gili Trawangan but all the Gili islands. The trees act as another step forward in conservation efforts on the island.
The plant life is not only vital for oxygenating the planet but also helps maintain Gili Trawangan's stunning backdrops. The scenery leads to some of the best sunsets seen in Asia. The project aims to have trees dispersed across Gili Meno and Gili Air in the next few months. This will unite the islands for the massive conservation effort in battling climate change, which is vital.
How can you help the Gilis?
Environmental issues are a global problem which we need to tackle together. The creative and relentless efforts of many are improving the situation in the Gilis. But you don’t need to be present here in order to help the situation.
Aim to reduce your plastic consumption. It’s incredible the number of products that have layers of unnecessary packaging. Farmers markets are a brilliant way to get your fruit and vegetables with zero plastic packaging. Plus it will be cost-effective and locally sourced meaning a lower carbon footprint AND it’s better for you!
Be conscious of the brands you purchase from. Non-environmentally friendly corporations are fuelled by greed. By boycotting these companies it decreases their profit margins. Write to local politicians and key policymakers. Utilise your social media platforms to spread awareness and encourage others to take action.
Walk or cycle to work when possible and if not, use public transport or carpooling. This reduces everybody's overall carbon footprint. I know you’ve heard these things before but the impact cannot be understated.
And finally, if you can, come and see for yourself the Gili Trawangan conservation efforts. Take part in a beach clean up, support local reputable charities and enjoy the beauty that is on offer here.