Auction of rights to 100 islands in Indonesia’s Widi Reserve postponed


Exclusive licensed rights to Widi Reserve at Sotheby’s auction The 100 environmentally protected islands covering 25,000 acres in Indonesia were delayed from their scheduled date last week. The hold follows the reaction of environmental groups, who say privatization and development of the islands could cause ecological damage and interfere with life in coastal communities.

Widi Conservation Area, an archipelago in northern Maluku state, is located in the biodiversity area known as the “Coral Triangle”, which is home to endangered animals such as sea turtles and humpbacks. wrasse and whale sharks.

On its sales list, Sotheby’s describes the archipelago as “one of the most breathtaking properties anywhere in the world” and “a secluded, otherworldly paradise”. coral reefs and 150 kilometers (93 miles) of beach. The auction house also outlines possible possibilities: an airstrip for private jets, luxury “eco resorts” and an international airport.

But jet-setters may not be visiting paradise so soon. The sale, originally scheduled to begin on December 8, was delayed to late January amid public outcry.

Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries announced In a statement released on December 5, it was stated that PT Leadership Islands Indonesia (LII), the company that manages the islands, has not obtained the appropriate licenses to continue the auction, including a use permit that would address environmental concerns.

In the statement made by the ministry, it was said that “people need to get approval when they will carry out settled activities in the sea both in coastal areas and small islands.”

In an email to The Washington Post, LII said: He has been working with the government on the project since 2014 and has a lot of “licenses, permits, approvals and government advice” in hand.

Zackary Wright, Sotheby’s vice president of Asia Pacific, told The Post via email that the change was made in response to the “overwhelming interest” in the sale and “to allow more time for interested buyers to work through due diligence.”

Controversy over the sale draws attention to the growing global scrutiny of the environmental impact of the ultra-rich – whether they’re skipping time zones on highly polluting private jets or cruising on diesel-burning superyachts. The turmoil also reflects broader concerns about the environmental impact of tourism in destinations from the Himalayas to the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

Selling usage rights for more than 1000 islands in Indonesia The 17,000 people are nothing new, said Mohammed Yusuf Sangadji, executive director of Jala Ina, an activist group focused on protecting oceans and coastal communities on the Maluku islands. However, the huge scale of this particular sale, which included the entire reserve rather than just a few islands, and the fact that information about it was easily accessible online, made the sale “viral”.

“I think it’s the first time such a large auction has been openly held, so [people] can access social media. It’s different from previous sales,” he said, pointing to the auction of islands in Indonesia’s Thousand Islands. “Usually, sellers go directly to the market.”

In response to criticism that the land was being sold to foreigners, LII issued the following statement via email: “Indonesian law does not allow private ownership of the islands by foreigners, citizens or companies. What is auctioned is a portion of the shares in LII in exchange for rights to participate in this development mission,” he said.

LII spokesperson Okki Soebagio said it will develop less than 0.005 percent of the reserve, making it “the lowest density private island resort development in the world.”

“Large-scale conservation is central to the company’s vision and drive,” Soebagio said.

Environmentalists were not convinced. “Sustainable tourism is a discourse. “We just talk but we don’t practice,” said Yusuf from Jala Ina. “There is no evidence of sustainable tourism in Indonesia.”

He said even small things like snorkeling can have an impact on the environment.

Afdillah, leader of the ocean campaign team at Greenpeace Indonesia, which goes by a single name, shared Yusuf’s concern, describing eco-tourism as an “empty promise”.

“We firmly believe that there is no such thing as ‘sustainable development’ in reserves and that the best way to protect them is to leave them as they are. Actually, we humans should try to expand them,” he said, adding that resorts, port and airport runways will change the landscape.

Confronting Sotheby’s claim that the reserve was “deserted”, Afdillah said the auction was “a serious violation of the rights of coastal communities and traditional fishermen living in the preserve”.

“Not a single island or sea area is unclaimed in Indonesia,” he said.

Charmila reported from Jakarta and Ables from Seoul.

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