This month the BIS school & Sarinbuana Eco Lodge planted 25 fruit trees in the Batukaru Rainforest.

Each child put their name beside the tree, so they can return some day and see how their tree is growing.

Thank you to  Sheila Douglas for your kind donation last year which has made this sign possible.

Over the last 2 months Norm & I have been working on a 200cm x 80 cm educational sign for the entrance to the rainforest.

The sign is written in Indonesian and English and aims to highlight the  flora and fauna found within this unique rainforest, emphasising the importance of conserving the birds and animals found here for future generations.

From Norm’s desk…

Planting Native, Fruiting Trees in damaged areas in the Mt Batukaru Rainforest

‘Thirty years ago, local farmers were having a very hard season with far too little rain. Most unusually for this area, people were getting hungry. So some of them went into the protected forest, to cut down trees to be sold for timber, and to clear new land for gardens.’ Or so the story goes…

These cleared areas, were 1 or 2 hectares in size, and they’re scattered, near the edges of the ‘protected’ forest. Although trees have now had many years to regenerate, very few have been able to survive the aggressive vines that smother most tree seedlings, so, to this day, these damaged areas are still dominated by the vines, with just a few stunted trees surviving.

The Current Project…

In our ongoing effort to bring back more native food, for rainforest birds and animals, I’m currently overseeing a project to plant, and then maintain, 6,000, native, fruiting trees in damaged parts of the protected rainforest, on Mt Batukaru.

In late 2009, the Plant a Tree Today (PATT) Foundation sourced funding from Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) and passed it on, through a friend, who runs the Bali International Consulting Group (BICG). Working with the leader of the local Adat, we designed the project, and gained permission to start replanting native trees, inside the protected, Mt Batukaru rainforest.

In total, 6,000 native trees have been very densely planted, over an area of approximately 6 hectares. We hope the close spacings will quickly re-establish a closed canopy, which will discourage regrowth of the vines. Two local men, have been employed to maintain the young trees, mainly to protect them from the vines, over the next 12months.

The 6,000 trees, some fast, and some slow growing, were selected specifically to provide abundant food for native birds and animals. 5,000 seedlings were planted near the road through the forest, to an important local temple (Pura Jatiluweh), while 1,000, were planted several ridges to the East, near Bonkalanyar Village. This village has yet to benefit from any development, and one consequence is, that people are still exploiting the forest, taking birds, orchids, animals and timber. We took these first, 1,000 trees to Bonkalanyar to begin a process, whereby locals start to receive benefits from protecting the forest, instead of exploiting it.




Bali Starlings once common in Bali, are now one of the World’s rarest birds. Except for a small, and closely guarded, population in West Bali, and 60 odd birds, which have recently been released on a neighboring island, Nusa Penida, the Bali Starling is essentially, extinct in the wild. Only captive breeding programs have saved it from total extinction.

The most successful Bali Starling breeding program, is privately funded by the Gardner family, under the auspices of the Begawan Foundation. We’ve known the Gardners for many years, and recently, having watched the Eco Lodge develop and mature, they offered to give us a breeding pair to start our own program.

For the Birders:

There’s been a lot of discussion about where Bali Starlings can, or will, live. When the Begawan Foundation proposed a release program for Nusa Penida, there were experts who argued they wouldn’t survive on the island, for various reasons from, capture by (very low income) residents, to predation by migrating raptors.

Apart from the perils of capture and death by eagle, the island is extremely dry much of the time, and there are few trees large enough to provide holes for nesting, so it is very heartening to see that recent survey of the released population on Nusa Penida, found their numbers are stable, and they are nesting opportunistically, wherever they can find a niche. One nest was apparently seen under the eaves of a house, and this is especially relevant because these are very low income communities, and each bird is worth a great deal of money on the black market.

To date, the release program on Nusa Penida, which is the only really wild population anywhere (the released birds in West Bali live in a tightly controlled environment), seems to be succeeding, and the Begawan Foundation wants to extend the program into new areas, on mainland Bali. It may be many years before we have enough birds, and the social environment is safe enough, for us to start releasing Bali Starlings, but overall, more breeding programs in more locations, can only be a good thing, for the survival of the species.


The Eco Lodge Program (March 2011 - April 2013):

The Bali Starling was mainly known to live in the hot and rather dry environment of West Bali.

Whether they’ll thrive here at 700m remains to be seen, however, Bradley Gardner, who’s invested an enormous amount of time and money, watching the program carefully over many years, believes Bali Starlings are opportunists that, undisturbed, will live almost anywhere on the island. Pak Bayu, the veterinarian working for the Begawan Foundation, who was in charge of the breeding program from the beginning, also believes they’ll do well at our altitude. On balance, we believe it’s worth having a go, so…

News Update May 2013: After trialing the Bali Starling breeding program for 2 years at the lodge without success, we have returned our Starlings to the Begawan Foundation. We hope to receive a pair of endemic parrots, for breeding soon.


Our Bali Starling Project is now officially underway, with the cage now completed, our breeding license procured

and our pair of Bali Starlings waiting to arrive to their new mountain home.

A special Thank you to Carolyn Kenwrick,  Shirley Hermawan and the Begawan Foundation for making this happen!.