What Are Bio-Rocks?

Bio-rocks is a relatively new technology that allows corals to regrow into coral reefs. These structures are an essential part of the projects that Gili Eco Trust invest in to rebuild coral reefs in the Gili islands that have been damaged by boats dropping anchors and fishing practices.

Here is a diagram of a bio rock:

Bio-rocks are man-made structures that through electric currents and electro-accumulation of minerals dissolved in seawater, stimulate the growth of corals. There are 127 biocoks in gili making it the second-largest program in the world.

Gili has credited their bio rocks to “Marine scientist Wolf Hilbertz in 1974 was researching seashells and coral to find out how they grow. He found that by passing an electrical current through seawater, the salty water electolyzes causing calcium carbonate to combine with magnesium. Chloride and hydroxyl ions slowly form on the cathode and this eventually coats the electrode with a material almost as strong as concrete. Over time this material hardens further, growing and becoming stronger as long as the current flows as much as 5cm per year. It can even heal itself if it were to be damaged and due to it’s high levels of dissolved oxygen it is particularly attractive to marine organisms The superfood for our coral reefs! ”

Students can come to Gili to work on the project and is mainly aimed at gap year students, people on career breaks and anyone interested in more than just a normal vacation. Volunteers can come along to the island and help out on new Bio Rock projects, work on maintaining existing ones or even sinking their very own brand new Bio Rock. Other activities include how to create and maintain a coral garden, learn about environmental threats and coral biology, and how to survey coral gardens.

biorockstructuredivesite

Gili Eco trusts also offer their very own coral reef awareness course and bio-rock PADI dive course

Here are some of the many bio rocks at the Gili islands:

Bio rocks can look really different and creative like this on in Bali creating interesting landscapes and coral reefs:

Destructive Fishing Techniques (Dynamite and Cyanide Fishing)

 

As part of Gili Eco Trust, we strongly discourage and look down upon fishing techniques that do more harm than good such as dynamite fishing and cyanide fishing in which other fish and corals are damaged or killed unnecessarily. Below are two examples of what happens when for instance cyanide or dynamite fishing techniques are used:

Coral reefs are important marine and aquatic ecosystems that have huge biodiversity supporting many species. Coral reefs are found around the equator so mainly in tropical regions between the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer or 23.5 degrees north and south of the equator. The ocean here is mainly calm, warm and not much wind. Coral reefs also help neighbouring ecosystems like mangroves, seagrass beds and deep-ocean ecosystems.

Coral reefs are situated between 5-60 meters deep and come in three types. Fringing reefs (near the coast), barrier reefs (situated between a lagoon or deep area of water) and atoll (sort of like an island surrounded by a coral reef)

Coral reefs form around the reef crest, reef flat and fore reef (on a hill underwater.

As many knows, coral reefs are important ecosystems, and these fishing techniques are damaging and terrible for coral reefs

Below is a diagram of threats to coral reefs, mainly overfishing techniques:

Many fishing techniques are destructive to these delicate habitats and ecoystems — particularly vital fish breeding grounds like coral reefs and seagrass meadows. Below are some examples of these fishing practices, which happen mainly in south east asia, but have happened in places like Australia

  • Bottom trawling: Before, these trawlers were not used because they could snag and tear but, in the 1980s, more powerful trawlers were introduced which became sort of like a killer machine in which corals were just ripped like plants from the sea bed.

  • Cyanide fishing: In this technique, fishers squirt sodium cyanide into the water to stun fish without killing them, making them easy to catch. However, the bad news with cyanide is that for every live fish caught using cyanide, a square metre of their coral reef home is killed.

  • Dynamite fishing: In this technique, dynamite or other explosives are set off underwater. The dead fish floating to the surface are then simply scooped up. The explosives completely destroy the underwater environment, leaving it as rubble. Dynamite fishing has contributed to most of the massive destruction and sometimes when diving in south-east Asia, one can hear bombs and explosions going off regularly.

  • Ghost fishing: Ghost fishing occurs when fishing gear is lost or abandoned at sea. The gear can continue to catch fish, dolphins, whales, turtles, and other creatures as it drifts through the water and after it becomes snagged on the seabed.

Project Week

As the culminating outdoor education experience at UWCSEA is Project Week in Grade 11 when small groups of students plan their own trips that combine adventure and service, and they travel to a site in the region unaccompanied. South-East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia are the most popular destinations. 

Every year groups from each GC visit their NGO of origin and work and build relationships with them in order to maintain a connection between the NGO and the GC at school. This is crucial which is why this year (2020), two groups consisting of 5-6 people will be helping out and building relationships with Gili Eco Trust at the Gili Islands in Indonesia.

In Gili, the two groups will be joining the green team, a team that organises cleanups. The groups will also help out in the recycling centre on Gili Trawangan, performing and organising beach cleanups, and helping out with the bio-rocks. Gili is split into two teams, the green team, which works on sustainability on land, and the blue team, which works on sustainability on water. The two groups will do a mix of participating in both teams. Gili Eco Trust calls its volunteers it’s Eco Warriors and below is an example of a schedule that most volunteers work on. Bank Sampah is the recycling centre.

 

Turtles are finding their way back to Gili Trawangan!

Huge changes occurred on Gili Trawangan when the government took to the beach and ordered the clearance of all buildings and structures on the sandy side of Trawangan’s main path.

The government informed all the businesses to take structures, tables and sunbeds off the beach. Although they are still clearing the rubble and foundations, our beaches are now reverting back to their natural state. You can actually see the sea from the main street and the beach isn’t littered with little jewellery stands and restaurants. A true tropical paradise is reviving!

This has made a massive change for the turtles around the island that found their way back to make their nest on the beach. In a weeks’ time, three hawksbill turtles laid their eggs on the beach on the east side. Turtles need clean, dark and peaceful beaches to dig their nests and now Gili is starting to be the perfect example of this!

It’s a great accomplishment for Gili Trawangan to house the nests of hawksbill turtles, as they appear on the IUCN list as critically endangered. Around the Gili Islands, the two main turtle species are green and hawksbill turtles. Hawksbill eggs need 60 days of incubation before they hatch. The biggest reason for the hawksbill to be endangered is human activity. Turtle eggs are still seen as a delicacy in Indonesia and if they survive to juvenile or adulthood, they are fished for their flesh or decorative shell, despite being a protected species.

This article was shared in May of 2017.

2019 Gili Strong Triathlon

The 6th Sporting event to take place in Gili Trawangan, the Gili Strong Triathlon was a big success. The registration fees collected from 28 teams and 35 individuals amounted to 10.6 million rupiah, with all of it going towards the NGO. This is because the local government provided the prize money, and local businesses provided prizes. A raffle was also held, which raised another 12.8 million rupiah. Also, their pop-up eco market stall was at the Gili Festival (a 3-day event after the triathlon) and in total it made 3.7 million rupiah.

Gili Strong Triathlon participants jump into the water to start the swimming part of the race.
Participants starting the swimming part of the race (Image courtesy of Panca Nugraha)

This money will go towards purchasing 1 or 2 second-hand rubbish collection trucks for the island’s daily rubbish collection and renting an excavator to relocated rubbish off an access road to a dump on the island.

Here is the more detailed post on the NGO website:
https://giliecotrust.com/gili-triathlon-winners-all-round/

Initial Reflection and Moving Forward for 2019/2020

November 12th, 2019

It is now the 6th session of Gili Eco Trust in the 2019 – 2020 academic year, and a lot of the initial set-up has been completed. 

Our first session on the 10th of September involved a basic overview of both the GC and the NGO. The leaders summarized their aims and their methods. For example, they explained what biorock is, and why helping the Gili islands is so important. They also gave us the link to the Gili Eco Trust NGO website.

Planning Swimdonesia: (reflection on planning)

Right from the get-go, we organized an event called Swimdonesia with Surf Aid GC and Jakarta Street Kids GC to raise money for our respective GC. This was a big event in which various games were played in and around the pool, and the usual food and beverages were sold. Our ex-chair and ex-vice-chair (now chair) with our MCs for Swimdonesia


Kids of all ages can’t wait to try the Destroyer. 


The Destroyer, the blow-up obstacle course we organize every year for Swimdonesia

 

Aside from the first session, most of our time has been dedicated to Swimdonesia. Because it was on the 12th of October, we had very little time to get organized as a group before we had to rush to prepare for it. However, our leadership team and some members of our GC did attend some sessions concerning the logistics of the event, finalisation of ideas with all three GCs (Gili Eco Trust, Jakarta Street Kids and Surf Aid) and the final plan. 

 


Gili Eco Trust GC members working

 

In our second session, we split up into groups to work on various activities that would occur at the event, such as a quiz, games, and ticket-selling. However, a lot of the fun activities got cancelled. This is because we realised we didn’t have enough time to plan them properly, and we were told by Mr Hannah that we did not have enough people to plan the event. Indeed, many on our team couldn’t or didn’t go to Swimdonesia – but all of us helped in planning it. The challenges in organizing the event can be seen in more detail in our SWOT analysis post

 

However, the hurried planning for the event has helped us to practise prioritising tasks and quickly analyse the logistics of events we may hold. It will help us in organizing another of our events coming up, the Holiday Fair on the 12th of December.

 

Leadership Positions:

After finishing Swimdonesia planning, our chair and vice-chair have stepped down. Our new chair is Iman, and our vice-chairs are now Oscar and Arjun. Other leadership positions so far include: Head of finance (Aarnav), and Communications Officer (Ashima).

 

Goal Setting Document:

The ROLE Plastic Conference 2019

Last month, members of the Gili Eco Trust foundation travelled to Bali to join the ROLE Foundation’s 3rd annual conference and debate regarding the ‘Zero Waste to Ocean’ debate.  

Indonesia is the 2nd largest global contributor to plastic in our oceans. More than 250 people from various organizations and initiatives all over the world, including representatives of the Gili Eco Trust NGO, joined together in the Zero Waste to Oceans – Community Environment & Skills Center to discuss and learn more about who is responsible. Eight speakers from different associations in Bali spoke during the conference. 

Jane Fisher from IWP (Indonesia’s Waste Platform)  started off the debate with an important question, “Who is responsible?”  

 More often than not, plastic and packaging producers insist the blame is on the irresponsible consumer of their product whilst instead, they should be taking responsibility for the materials they produce. More than 500 companies in Bali alone are using single-use plastics that cannot currently be recycled, and one main reason recyclers won’t take on such single-use plastics is down to its extremely low recyclable value. 

To achieve Indonesia’s commitment to reducing plastic waste in the ocean by 30% by 2025, it is essential that the Government puts more pressure on these corporations and take legal actions accordingly. Using the term Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), industries should be taking responsibility for their products throughout their entire life-cycle.

Piet Van Zyl, from Positive Impact Forever, explained that it was difficult for the locals to make a connection between their waste (mis)management (throwing everything in rivers) and actual marine waste. He also stressed the fact that ‘zero waste’ doesn’t exist, everybody is making waste even if it’s only a little bit. Recycling is not the answer and there is no “magic bin” (social acceptance of disposing of your rubbish in a bin thinking that now it has been dealt with). He finished stating that “Reducing marine waste by 30% before 2025 is progress, however, it is not a final achievement”.

So how can we stay positive through all this chaos?

Dr. Surya Anaya (Komunitas Peduli Sampah Bali), Christian Fritz (ecoSmart hub) and Dwi Jayanthi (Plastic Detox) showed many single-use plastic alternatives that can be introduced daily, explaining that there are many different solutions to reduce the use of plastic: metal boxes for take-away, reusable bottles, alternatives to plastic straws etc. Raza Helmi from No Plastic Indonesia highlighted the influencing impact of social media to stop using disposable products. Things like metal straws, reusable cups and bags have started to become very popular amongst influencers all over the world, and thus affecting and improving the mindsets of teenagers and social media users across the globe. They all stress how easy it is to take small steps and make responsible choices to reduce the problem, especially with single-use plastic – even for those who are more reluctant and don’t want to lose their convenient consumer habits.

Following the conference, small debates were held amongst members to determine the roles of the government action over marine plastic waste along with stalls from environmental entrepreneurs and sustainable alternatives and solutions to the problem with plastic. The Gili Eco Trust had a popup eco market stall to show some of the campaigns we continue to work with on Gili Trawangan to forward motions towards a zero-waste-to-oceans approach.

To keep following the incredible work of ROLE Foundation check out the ROLE foundation’s official website.