Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta – Kyoto University's Center for Southeast Asian Studies researcher and environmentalist Cypri Jehan Paju Dale on Sunday said that UNESCO's World Heritage Committee recommendation for the Komodo National Park is a massive achievement for conservation and tourism.
The WHC draft decision 44.COM 7B.93 urges the Indonesian government to temporarily halt the tourism infrastructure projects in the protected Komodo habitat considered as outstanding universal value (OUV).
"This is a triumph for Indonesia's conservation and tourism, especially in Flores. It's a win against the destruction of a conservation area and world heritage site by the current regime's tourism development," said the Flores-born researcher to Tempo on August 1.
Cypri believes the conservation zone in the Komodo park has been meddled by the government along with a major physical restructuring of Rinca Island that is not backed by proper environmental impact assessment (Amdal), which the Committee said must be assessed by the IUCN.
The crucial aspect that the government enacted, he says, is the handing over of hundreds of hectares to the private sector in order to establish an exclusive high-end resort by sacrificing the livelihood of Komodo island residents.
"The plan to relocate Komodo residents to make the island an exclusive tourism zone is a laughable idea," said the researcher. "If the government is adamant to go with its plan, they will not only lose face but also Indonesia's tourism image will also greatly suffer."
Through the official UNESCO recommendation, Cypri added, the Indonesian government should no longer clash with East Nusa Tenggara residents and international civil society groups as he believes President Jokowi now faces resistance from the international community and organizations.