The highly unpopular decree issued by the former governor Wayan Koster, prohibiting the ascent of 22 peaks on the island of Bali on May 31, 2023, is currently powerless and being ignored. Restrictions on climbing volcanoes appear to have exceeded the legal authority of the former head of the island.
Earlier, we wrote that the decrees of the governor retain their force and cannot be changed even after their departure; however, this certainly does not apply to documents that initially have no legal validity. Currently, the number of tourists climbing Mount Batur, which has an elevation of 1717 meters, has returned to normal levels. This is despite the off-season high temperatures and drought prevailing on the Island of the Gods.
Made Budiadnyana Putra, the head of the Association for the Management of Protected Forests (KPHK) under the Bali Natural Resources Conservation Agency (KSDA-Bali), assured that mountaineering activities are proceeding as usual. Budiadnyana explained why the governor's ban on tourists climbing the 22 peaks of Bali can be ignored. He noted that Regulation PP No. 28 of 2011 regarding the management of reserves and sanctuaries is a law under the central government's jurisdiction. Although Mount Batur is physically located in the Bali province, it is legally under the control of the central government in Jakarta. Budiadnyana stated that the former governor, Wayan Koster, sent a letter to Jakarta attempting to close Bali's mountains to climbers, but he hopes the ministry will thoroughly review the proposal before agreeing with Koster's suggestion. According to the law on the management of nature reserves and sanctuaries, the governor does not have the authority to permanently close mountains for nature tourism. The governor's powers are limited to the temporary closure of mountainous areas due to natural disasters threatening public safety, and there is no such necessity at the moment. There is no reason to close the mountains due to ecological problems related to tourism. According to research and "carrying capacity" documentation conducted by the Bali Regional Environmental Control Center, Mount Batur can accommodate 500 daily visitors. Meanwhile, the actual average number of daily visitors to the summit is around 200. Each tourist or group must be accompanied by a local guide to avoid forest fires and scandalous behavior, to which tourists seem particularly prone on mountain peaks. It is important to remember that while the ban may not be effective, the mountains and volcanoes remain sacred to the Balinese. Any indecent behavior, such as the kind that led the former governor to attempt a ban, could result in an unpleasant deportation procedure.
In addition, the leadership of conservation and sanctuary associations and their respective associations urge tourists not to litter in the vicinity of the mountains and on the peaks themselves.