Raja Ampat Doberai Eco Resort is very concerned with the preservation of the Raja Ampat area within the scope of the overall ecosystem. Raja Ampat Doberai Eco Resort and we all of course do not want Raja Ampat to suffer the same fate just like other tourist destinations in Indonesia, where there are damages to forests, coral reefs and also socially negative changes of the social and cultural life of the community.
When we heard the name of Raja Ampat, the imagination of every person will wander into an archipelago in West Papua which is famous for its natural beauty. Raja Ampat is now well-known among tourists, both foreign and domestic. Especially for those who have a hobby of diving (diving). Raja Ampat is like a paradise for divers.
What makes Raja Ampat Islands are so attracted for tourists, so they do not care about the costs that they should spend to enjoy the exotic nature? Natural exoticism of Raja Ampat archipelago
according to various sources is known as one of the 10 best waters for diving sites around the world. In fact, it may also be recognized as number one for the completeness of underwater flora and fauna at this time. Very many oceanographers say that, Raja Ampat archipelago located in the westernmost tip of the island of Papua, about 50 miles northwest of Sorong, having the best coral regions in Indonesia. Approximately 450 species of coral had been identified during the two weeks of research in that area.
Enjoy the exoticism of the Raja Ampat Islands from height is an experience that is hard to describe with words. A carpet of green and clear with dozens or even are small coral islands scattered. There is an indescribable peace by simply looking at the expanse of it and enjoy the sea air is far from air pollution. Words that may be appropriate in describing the feeling is ‘biofilia’.
The term biofilia was first introduced by a naturalist named EO Wilson. By this biofilia Wilson defined as an innate human relations to other living organisms. According to him, our relationship with nature is rooted strongly with human evolutionary past. And it is embedded in our genes. That’s why every year more and more people are visiting the zoo than attending the game all sporting events combined.
Raja Ampat archipelago itself is located in Raja Ampat is one of the districts in West Papua carved out of Sorong regency since 2003. There are approximately 610 islands in this region, although only about 35 islands are inhabited. Among these are the four main islands in the district, namely, Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. The population census last known about 42 508 inhabitants in the area of 46 296 km2.
As an archipelago with 85% area is an ocean, Raja Ampat has many peculiarities, which is the main attraction for this area. The surrounding sea is the heart of the Coral Triangle region that is recognized worldwide as a center of coral reef biodiversity. Raja Ampat Islands are home to more than 75% of coral species in the world. A total of 537 species of hard coral have been identified in the Ecological Study Brief (Rapid Ecological Assessment / REA) by TNC in 2002.
Raja Ampat is also the richest region in the world for a number of reef fish fauna reach at least 1427 species. The number indicates the highest number of marine biodiversity compared to other regions in the same area in the world. Currently, the number of species has increased to 553 hard coral species and 1470 the number of reef fish fauna. In Raja Ampat, the scientists also find more fish than the area of the same size in other areas in the world-some kind of even only found in Raja Ampat.
There are several areas of the reefs are still very good condition with the percentage of live coral cover up to 90%, which is in the Dampier Strait (the strait between Waigeo P. and P. Batanta), Kofiau Islands, Misool Islands-South East and Wayag Islands. Types of coral reefs in Raja Ampat generally is fringing reef with ramps up the steep contours. But found also the type of atoll and the type of charred or taka. In some places such as the village Saondarek, when the lowest tides, coral reefs can be seen without a dive and with his own adaptation, corals can still be alive despite being in the open air and exposed to direct sunlight.
Unique species that can be found at the time of diving is some kind of dwarf seahorse, wobbegongs, manta rays and fish. Also there is a fish endemic to Raja Ampat, namely Eviota king, which is a kind of fish gobbie. At Manta Point located in Arborek Dampier Strait, we can dive in the company of some tail Manta Ray benign like when we dive in Derawan Islands, East Kalimantan. If diving in Cape Kri or Chicken Reef, you can be surrounded by thousands of fish
Sometimes a collection of tuna, giant trevallies and snappers. But stressful if we are surrounded by a collection of barracuda, even though it is relatively harmless (dangerous if we see barracuda solitary or alone). Reef sharks are also frequently seen, and if you are lucky you can also see the turtles were quietly eating sponge or swim around you. In some places, such as in Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo also seen dugong or sea cow.
Because the area of many islands and narrow straits, then most of the dive at a particular time has a strong current. It is also possible to do a drift dive, dive followed by a strong current of water is very clear as it broke through a collection of fish (Wikipedia).
This then makes the Raja Ampat Islands as “underwater paradise” with the beauty of diversity that is difficult to surpass by any place in this world.
Increasing number of tourists and Threat
Indication of the growing recognition of the Raja Ampat Islands as a marine tourism area which is worth a visit is reflected in the number of tourists visiting the past 4 years. According to data from the Department of Culture and Tourism Raja Ampat, if in 2008 the number of tourists is just around the 2000s of visitors, then in 2010 this number increased to 3,855 people. In 2012 this number increased to 6000’s of people. At the end of 2013 this number is expected to be much increased.
Increasing tourist numbers has resulted in an increase in tourism facilities, which also experienced a significant increase. From the beginning to now, number of resorts are seven resorts and five home stay in the tourist village. Same thing on the number of cruise ships, exclusive vehicle alternative to enjoy the beauty of Raja Ampat, increased from 12 ships to 36 ships in three years.
Tourists visiting Raja Ampat generally come from Europe, and only a small part of the country, so that the tariff charged to visitors usually in the Euro standards. In some places, with a very simple accommodation just a walled and thatch roofs typically cost a minimum of 75 euros, or Rp 900,000 a night. And had to spend 30 euros more, or about Rp 360 thousand to be one dive at a particular location.
For a hotel with international standards and equipped with modern facilities and the food was a bit of luxury usually cost 225 euros, or about Rp 2.7 million per night. Not only for lodging, tariffs for sea transport was quite expensive with prices ranging between $ 2 million – USD 5 million. Even to visit one of the farthest island rental costs and speed can reach USD 15 million. The high cost of transportation rental price is due to the price of fuel is also expensive because it is difficult to obtain in this place.
The growing recognition of the Raja Ampat Islands as a marine tourism area which is accompanied by increase in the number of tourists visiting though has become a blessing for residents and local government, but on the other hand leaves its own problems. If there is no visitor restrictions and rules been feared to potentially damaging existing ecosystems.
Local Government Raja Ampat actually has issued the decree No. 4 of 2011 on the Development of Recreational Diving Raja Ampat, and the decree No. 3 of 2011 on Business Registration Procedures for Tourism. Both of these rules is the reference management tourism business that will contribute to revenue and create a competitive investment climate in Raja Ampat. The regulation also discussed procedures for diving, diving conditions, diving safety rules, the circulation of tourist boats in Raja Ampat, environmental conservation, and sanctions for tour operators who violate.
However, the publication of these rules must always be guarded in terms of implementation.
An interesting view of the experts is submitted that the management of marine tourism in Raja Ampat need well designed and managed so as not to undermine the sustainability of marine natural resources in Raja Ampat. And vice versa, but it provides economic and ecological benefits are high for the government, society and the environment. It is believed that if the tour program in Raja Ampat is designed and managed well, then this program will not damage the marine natural resources in Raja Ampat, but instead will provide significant benefits for the region.
The fact that Raja Ampat regency until now there has been an indication Spatial determination of the tourist area of the current can be changed at any time. And this means that in the future the charm of Raja Ampat as a tourist area with abundant natural wealth and exotic might just be the historical record only.
Other threats are also related to the marine ecosystem in Raja Ampat. Despite conservation efforts have been made, including by involving the local indigenous people, but exploration efforts extractive still sometimes do, for example, fishing with cyanide (potassium) and fishing in excess (over fishing). Infrastructure development as well as new areas potentially disrupt the continuity of existing ecosystems in the area.
Other environmental issues are increasingly reduced due to the exploitation of mangrove communities and land conversion of mangrove land into residential land, which is the case a lot going on in Waisai, Kabui, Arawai, Kalitoko, Waigama, Salafen, Kalatlap and a number of other places.
In the middle of the magnitude of the potential threats to ecosystems in Raja Ampat, hope for improvement and enhancement of the environment remain.
Many conservation activities that have made this region became the first district in Indonesia, which declared a CTF Network (Water Conservation Area). Conservation area is globally recognized as an effective tool in supporting sustainable fisheries, protect important marine habitats and ensure food security and livelihoods for local communities. Currently there are seven CTF in the network that covers more than 1 million acres of coastal and marine areas.
With this declaration CTF Network, local communities have now been using the data of ecological and socio-economic along with their local knowledge to prepare a zoning plan for every CTF. Traditional practices such as SASI are included into the zoning plan. Each of these plans will be included in a management plan CTF larger networks.
We certainly hope that the exoticism of the Raja Ampat Islands region can be maintained as it exists now. Interesting what the experts say that that welfare assessment should not only be seen in what is now, but it should also be sustainability. Welfare should be interpreted with a fixed environment is preserved around, which is not sacrificed just because of novelty.