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Indonesia. Widi archipelago for sale. Worried about it not being destroyed

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Widi Atoll in eastern Indonesia is up for sale. An offer to buy one hundred uninhabited islands appeared at Sotheby’s auction house. It raises concerns among environmental activists and part of the local community. They argue that it is one of the best-preserved coral ecosystems in the world, and the accelerated development of tourism on the islands may lead to its destruction.

The Widi Atoll is part of the Indonesian province of North Moluccas. It consists of about a hundred islets of volcanic origin, together forming an ecosystem of 10,000 hectares. There are rainforests, mangroves and coral reefs, preserved in very good condition. The archipelago is home to hundreds of marine and terrestrial species.

The islands are uninhabited, but that may soon change. The Indonesian government put them up for sale. CNN Indonesia reported about the auction.

Reserve at auction

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The sale of the Widi Islands is due to start on Thursday, December 8, through Sotheby’s auction house, with the auction running until December 14.

Indonesian law prohibits the sale of the islands to foreign nationals, so buyers will be bidding not on the land and what is on it, but on shares in the company Leadership Islands Indonesia (LII). It is an indigenous development company that has obtained permission to build infrastructure on the island, including luxury residential properties, and an airstrip.

Sotheby’s describes the archipelago as “one of the best-preserved coral ecosystems in the world” and its purchase as a “unique opportunity”. In order to preserve the original state, the introduction of no-entry zones and the establishment of patrols to protect valuable species from poachers were promised. The Widi Reserve Environmental Center is to conduct monitoring, including tagging and tracking critically endangered species.

One of the islands in the Widi AtollShutterstock

Social and ecological controversies

Sotheby’s says the investment plan is designed to protect the islands’ natural resources and covers less than 1 percent of the rainforest. However, environmental activists fear that this is not enough. – How can it be ensured that these islands are not exploited for tourist activities? asks one of them, Ivan Sofiawan. – What about access for local communities after the islands become private property? – continue.

Mohamad Abdi Suhufan of Destructive Fishing Watch Indonesia, which promotes sustainable fishing, added that the sale of the islands “will impact the local community socially and economically.”

“Access to fishing sites that have been used for generations will be restricted,” he predicts. “The government is trying to aggressively attract foreign investment to get more revenue,” he comments.

CNN, Private Islands Inc.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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