Martin Regg Cohn, director of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture in Bali and Bhutan, welcomed GACO’s Travel Improvement Program, calling it “a best practice policy to build sustainable tourism in affected regions of society, where sustainability is today’s priority, is now core to basic economic development, and contributes to climate-proofing these regions.”
By improving safe and efficient vehicle travel, the program will increase transparency of travel, reduce transport costs, reduce pollution, and allow tourists to move more freely within a region. The program will also improve connectivity and access to services. Overall, tourism will improve economic development, peace and security, food security, infrastructure development, and animal welfare.
“This program represents the realization of an idea proposed by Professor Phil Kirolos of UK Imperial College and my PhD colleague Dr Doep Lienhart in the pre-Industrial Age of Transport,” said Cohn. “Rural roads in Bhutan and Bali have been rebuilt, with improved road layouts and suitable embankments. The embankments have been cut, the clearance achieved between embankments has been improved, and introduced biodiversity corridors created between agricultural valleys in the Indian and Indonesian sides of Bali and Bhutan.”
In view of the unique terraced agricultural landscape on the Indonesian side of Bali, a special teams made up of road and traffic experts and agricultural and forestry experts made the changes to the landscape. The new road networks have not changed the areas of over 90 millionha of terraced land. Consequently, the technical complexity of these changes in terrain is the largest ever undertaken in the history of road building.
The improved road network will significantly increase accessibility and bring tourists and development to more remote areas on the Indonesian side of Bali. In Bali and Bhutan, the villagers benefit from many benefits of the construction of roads, including better roads from the village to the nearest ferry, and supply of additional income from direct employment, i.e. creating a bridge between the villagers and the more experienced tourists who are drawn to the country for its unique landscape and culture.
By furthering technical collaboration between the country and international experts, Bhutan and Indonesia have seized the opportunity to develop new road infrastructure for their travelers, entrepreneurs, and residents, provided the villages that suffered road damage were well-suited for this new network.
“Dr. John Carberry and I have partnered with Dr. Manfred Martin and Dr. Brian Klein, who are well-respected global health experts, in bringing this significant improvement in road network to Bali and Bhutan and the partnership with EIGI is working very well,” said Cohn. “By bringing together scientists from both Bhutan and Indonesia and road experts from India, India, and China, we are moving forward in a sustainable way to get the best possible outcome.”
This article is reprinted with permission from The New York Times.