Sunday, September 12, 2010

Birds of Paradise in the Rainforest of Papua

When I watched the birds of paradise performed courtship dance on the branches of a tree in a forest in District Senopi, I was speechless. I was amazed by the beauty of those birds. I also heard the sounds of cockatoo and hornbill around the area but for me what attracted me the most were the birds of paradise. They were dancing that afternoon to attract the female birds. Bird watching and deer watching are two ecotourism activities that nature lovers or tourists like to do in the tropical rainforest of District Senopi in the Tambrauw Mountains of West Papua province, Indonesia. It is not easy to reach Senopi because the distance that the car has to cover is nearly 200 kilometers with extreme road condition. But this long trip cannot stop people like me to go there. 
The tropical rainforest of Papua island has been experiencing deforestation for years. During 1970s to 1990s massive logging operations were conducted to harvest the precious timber in this greatest tropical island and to make way for housings for migrants under the national transmigration program. Tens of thousands of hectares rainforest in the flat regions near the equator along the northern coast of this island have also been cleared to make way for massive monoculture palm oil plantation.
If the deforestation of Papua rainforest is not stopped, sooner or later, the birds of paradise, rainbow lory, cockatoo, and the whole forest ecosystem will be eliminated from their native land and can never be recovered. If we really love nature, we have to behave as true nature lovers. We don't easily buy products that are produced from the palm oil plantations that have destroyed the rainforest in Papua. by Charles Roring
Also read: 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Coral Reef Preservation and Ecotourism in Kaki island

After writing about coral reef preservation in the Dorey bay of Manokwari regency, now I am going to discuss about similar marine environment in Pantura region. One of the ecotourism destinations that I am now developing for tourists is Kaki island. Here the activities which they can enjoy are swimming, snorkeling, bird watching, fishing and eating lobster. Coral reefs around Kaki island and several coral islets in the region are still in good condition. I met a local Papuan fisherman there in July 2010 and expressed my opinion about how I and the local villagers along the northern coast can preserve the precious coral reef both for sustainable fishing and ecotourism trips. I told him that it is against the law if fishermen use bomb or explosive materials to catch fish. He agreed with that.
Kaki island is located near the Nuni village and I had successfully made a short video about how a small boy took his net bag from the sea which had been filled with lobsters. We all know that the price of lobster is expensive. The boys there caught lobsters at night. They dive without using diving gear. With only some outrigger boats, they catch lobsters that live among the corals. To catch the lobsters they use flashlight. They also wear gloves to protect their skin from sharp thorns that exist skin or shell of the lobsters.  The fishermen in Nuni village usually sell their catch to fish vendor in Kwawi near the boat terminal. The vendor will export them to his customers in big cities in Java.  Coral reef is the tropical rainforest of the sea. It is home to a lot of species of fish and other marine animals. While I was snorkeling with the Labrees in Kaki island in July 2010, I saw various species of fish and corals under the surface of the sea. I also saw some  tridacna clams which the fishermen had caught and put inside their boat. When these clams were still alive, you must not touch the inside part of the shells or your fingers will be cut by them. They are delicious food for the villagers. I hope that the local people there know how to preserve these important clams through sustainable fishing practices for the future generation of Papuan people. The sea in the northern coast is still clean. The coral reef there is healthy and full of marine animals.
Tourists who want to come to Kaki island must know that the current in the area is strong. They should not enjoy snorkeling there if they are not experience enough in handling such condition. Tourists should be accompanied by at least one local fisherman who parks his motorized boat between a sand dune and the Kaki island. If they are pushed away by the water current, the fisherman can move his boat closer to them so that they can easily reach and hold the outriggers of the boat and be dragged back to the shore. I don't know the exact price for a trip to island but the boat driver may request 100 thousand to 200 rupiahs. Try to bargain with him if you consider that the initial price that he ask of you is expensive. Usually, when the boat is not used for transporting tourists, it will be used for catching fish.
Additional income which fishermen get from the ecotourism activities in Kaki island is expected to support them financially so that they will not be tempted to use destructive fishing method that will be harmful to the coral reef ecosystem and to the fishermen themselves.
The nearby forest of the Nuni village is also in good condition. This tropical rainforest is home to cockatoo, hornbills, lory and reptiles that are endemic to Papua island. Ecotourism that I am developing in the region is still in her early stage. I hope that with more tourists coming to Nuni and the whole Pantura region, local Papuan people and city dwellers in Manokwari will give more attention to their forest and the marine environment and seriously protect them from any kind of destructive activities. by Charles Roring

Coral Reef Preservation in Dorey bay of Manokwari

I have been providing snorkeling tours around some tropical islands in the Dorey bay of Manokwari since the beginning of 2010. Tourists who want to enjoy this interesting marine sport come with their own snorkeling gear such as mask, snorkel and fins. The waters in this bay is quite warm. So, the use of wetsuits is optional. There is a lot of tiny animals in the water that can cause skin problems to snorkelers and scuba divers. So, I recommend that visitors wear swimsuit or wetsuits and apply special lotion to protect their skins.
I don't provide diving or snorkeling gears because they are not available in this town. The trips that tourists like the most are snorkeling tour around Mansinam and Raimuti islands. Here the coral reef are still in good condition especially in places where no or fewer people around. Coral reef is the tropical rainforest of the sea. Why we name it that way? Because the biodiversity of the coral reef is very high. It is even higher than the tropical rainforest. Various species of fish and marine animals can be found living among these wonderful animals. Animals? Coral reefs are animals. They really are. I don't want to discuss the biology of the coral reef here because I have written a lot of articles about it. You can read them here: coral reef.

In recent years the number of wastes dumped into the sea of the Dorey bay Manokwari is rising significantly. During rainy days, tons of plastic cups, bottles and other domestic and industrial wastes flow to the sea after being swept by the rain from the city. These wastes cover the sea surface and blockade sunlight from hitting the surface of the corals. If single cells algae that live in symbiotic relationship with the corals cannot perform the photosynthesis, the coral will die. The wastes also brings bacteria and other diseases that are harmful to the corals. Soon the corals will die and the whole underwater ecosystem will be effected. As a result, the number of fish will decrease and the fishermen cannot catch fish in the nearby water anymore. They have to go further to the open ocean to catch fish. This means they will need larger boats and machines and huge fishnets. When the fish arrive in the market, the price will be higher because the fishermen have to spend more money to catch fish.

So, the snorkeling trips that I provide to foreign tourists will raise awareness among city dwellers to the preservation of coral reef in Dorey bay of Manokwari. They will realize that it is important to protect or preserve the coral reef and keep the sea clean. In addition, the presence of tourists in the Dorey bay of Manokwari will automatically provide side jobs to the fishermen and villagers living around the islands. The added income which they get will improve their living condition so that they will be more appreciative to the coral reef around them. No coral reef means no snorkeling trips and no snorkeling trips offered on the internet means no tourists would come.
There are still a lot of things that I need to do to preserve this wonderful but fragile environment. Educational materials about the importance of coral reef should also be provided to Manokwari facebook users in Indonesian language so that they will be able to read and understand this matter well. I believe that if there are more people give attention to the cleanliness of our sea in the Dorey bay of Manokwari, the corals will be more protected. Coral reef preservation is not the responsibility of tour operators and ecotourism enthusiasts alone. It is the responsibility of all human being. Coral reef provide food and at the same time catch dissolved carbon dioxide and plays a very important role in reducing global warming. If all the corals and forest around the world are restored, the issue of global warming will not be as serious as what we see today. by Charles Roring 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Tropical House in Manokwari

A few days ago, I went to Kampung Ambon atas. Its an area in Manokwari city. I went there to make some pictures of an old concrete house which was constructed by the Dutch for their civil servant who worked for the Netherlands Nieuw Guinea. It is clear that it is not a typical wooden house of Arfak Mountains. This is a typical tropical house that shows how the ventilation system is installed to keep the indoor temperature as cool or fresh as possible. If we see its jalousie windows, large openings were made above them. The openings can also be seen above the doors. These openings are covered with mosquito nets to prevent the insects from entering the house and spreading the malaria to the occupants of the house. In addition, the wooden windows of the bedroom have been designed to allow air flowing in and out through the harmonica holes of the windows. The design of this house is not complicated. It can be drawn easily if someone who has been commissioned for it does his architectural works using Archicad, a BIM software that is widely used in home and building design. Read my article How to draw floor plan with archicad to learn the basics of this excellent CAD software.
This passive cooling system is effective in cooling the indoor the temperature and is also efficient. This efficient ventilation prevents the home owner of spending a lot of money on buying fans and air conditioning machines. Manokwari was a small town in West Papua. It is located closer to the equator where the day temperature is high but also with high humidity. Well designed ventilation system is vital in ensuring that the tropical house is comfortable. The Netherlands left West Papua in 1962. The houses which they built in Manokwari and other towns in West Papua are used as reference by the current Indonesian architects when they want to design and build new houses.
If we look carefully at the photograph, the roof that was installed is not made of metal sheets. It is difficult to find such roof now. Today, most of the houses in Manokwari use corrugated metal roof that is cheaper but with several disadvantageous. The corrugated metal sheet roofs can easily become very hut during the sunny weather and will be noisy during heavy rain. Although they are not comfortable during the extreme weather condition, city dwellers in Manokwari prefer to use them because they are cheaper and more durable. Of course new houses that are now being built in this city have begun to use ceramic roof tiles that are more expensive than the ordinary asbestos and corrugated metal sheets. 
Only a few wealthy families who can afford to buy them because such construction materials are still imported from big cities in Java, especially Jakarta and Surabaya. When they have been locally manufactured, they will be cheaper. A little addition has been added by the occupants of this house. They made a small shade above the front door to protect the living room from receiving too much glaring sunlight in the afternoon. by Charles Roring

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wooden House for Sale in Manokwari Regency

The wooden house which you see at this blog post belongs to a Dutch family who lives near the Asai beach in Manokwari regency of West Papua. This house was designed and constructed by the owner himself, Mr. (Solke) Munneke, an engineer who used to be a teacher in Engineering school in the Netherlands. Its living room is located on the second floor. Facing the Pacific Ocean.
In my previous posts, I discussed about wooden house from tropical village of Senopi and wooden house from Arfak Mountains. Both of them are totally different from this one. Mr. Munneke accurately cut and assembled the panels, beams and blocks. High quality varnished was applied to the surface of the wood to provide protection against wet climate and termites of the tropical region of West Papua. In addition, the wood which was used in Mr. Munneke's house is the high quality one with high density and strength. After the big earthquake hit Manokwari in 2007, high rise buildings that are being or will be built in this city use steel frames. Steel building is considered stronger than ordinary concrete one. The use of wooden frames for to reinforce the structural arrangement of ordinary concrete houses is also encouraged both by the agency of public works and by the architects who design houses. This is learned from the old buildings and houses that had been left by the Dutch in 1962. Their steel and wooden frames have been very effective in preventing the buildings from collapsing during the earthquake. 
Different from the ground floor of the the wooden house which I had seen in Senopi village, which is used as pigpen, Mr. Munneke's house also has ground floor but that space is used for storage and bed room. Small space is also provided for motorcycle parking lot. The Asai beach that is located not far from and just below the slope is very beautiful and often becomes a favorite destination for town dwellers especially on Sundays. In general, the design of this wooden house is not a conventional one. It is not a rectangular at all. It looks like a hexagon but with slight modification at the back and front sides. Corrugated metal roofs cover the first and the smaller second floors to protect the occupants from extreme weather.
Personally, I am very impressed by brilliant idea of Mr. Munneke who fully applied the natural cooling system in his house. We all know that the air temperature in the tropical region is quite hot during the days (around 31-33 degrees Celcius). He built a small fish pond at the back of the house and made the living room as an open space to allow air from the sea and the hill behind the house to flow freely. Additional natural cooling for the house is enhanced by various plants that he and his wife grow around the house. Mr. (Solke) Munneke told me that he wants to sell the house because he wants to live closer to Manokwari city so that his children can have access to good school. If you are interested in buying this house you can contact him via this email: sajmunneke@hotmail.com
Also read: House for sale in Manokwari