Traveljunkieindonesia.com – Environmental issues often seem to be alien in Indonesia, and Indonesians are wont to say to Europeans: ‘We are a poor country that needs to exploit our natural resources. How can you tell us not to cut down our forests when you have already cut down all your own?’ That said, Indonesia has a growing environmental awareness and environmental laws, even if they are poorly enforced.
You can lecture all you like and even report violations to the local authorities, but the best you can hope for is to avoid adding to environmental degradation.
Hikers should follow the maxim that is posted in every Indonesian national park: ‘take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints’. Minimise disposable waste and take it with you, even if the trails are already littered. Avoid buying goods with excess packaging – go for food wrapped in banana leaf rather than polystyrene. Re-use water bottles – many hotels let you refill bottles with air putih (drinking water).
Snorkellers and divers should never stand on coral and should avoid touching or otherwise disturbing living marine organisms. There are laws to protect endangered species, but you still see such creatures for sale in local bird markets. Many souvenirs are made from threatened species: turtle shell products, sea shells, snakeskin, stuffed birds and framed butterflies are readily available in Indonesia.
Not only does buying them encourage ecological damage, but import into most countries is banned and they will be confiscated by customs. See the cites.org for more information.
Happy Green Travels!