Metamorfosa: Building a community for ocean sustainability

Photo by Gemtrack Travel

Photo by Gemtrack Travel

In this week’s blog we’ll be showcasing an upcoming documentary series by Gemtrack Travel called Positive Pioneers, and in particular Metamorfosa: an episode highlighting a village in Indonesia that has come together to restore its natural beauty including its surrounding waters and coral reefs.

The documentary shows the dedication the community that has committed to bringing their 5 km of local reefs back to life as well as the solution of building the relationships between all the levels of society to make projects like this replicable and successful in areas around the world!

Beautiful both visually and in its story, this documentary is awaiting its highly anticipated release at the end of this month, so take a look at this blog for a preview and stay tuned for its release! In the meantime also check out the documentary website here to learn more about this project and how you can support it!

What was your main inspiration for creating Metamorfosa?

Metamorfosa is the brainchild of Totok, the ingenious, ambitious changemaker in Sumberkima who wants to rethink the way tourism, conservation and community function in the area. Growing up, he witnessed the rapid deterioration of his beloved village that was once replete with natural beauty and resources alike. Disappointed by the harsh shears of modernity that was gnawing at the idyllic, deeply spiritual way of life in his village, he began work in the neighbouring village of Pemutaran. There was an eco-initiative taking place here already and Totok sought to learn as much as he could here so that one day he could return to his village and create a positive impact there.

How did you choose to spotlight this community in Indonesia in particular? Can you tell us more about this community?

Gemtrack works in Goa, Sri Lanka, Bali and Lombok - it is in these areas that we are presently trying to promote a culture of slow and sustainable travel. Not only does this mean highlighting cafes, accommodation and experiences that are in line with our values but also bringing inspiring stories from these parts of the world to a larger audience who can support these projects. Indonesia is particularly close to one of our founders, Rosa who has Javanese ancestry. We decided to start with the places that we knew most about and so we picked these areas. The communities that came with these areas are truly a force to be reckoned with.

In Sumberkima, Totok has mobilized the entire community to fall in line behind him. Though he is the one at the helm of affairs, it is the work and cooperation of the collective that allows the mission to prosper. Everyone from the fisherfolk to to village head to those that work in the tourism sector have come on board to back the project. A change for the environment is a change for the people and they are keen to regenerate what they have lost.

What kinds of projects will you showcase in the documentary?

The documentary about Metamorfosa in particular talks about Totok and the reef restoration project. The reef which stretches on for 5 km is not in a good condition and requires tenacious care and attention for it to return to its vibrant, salubrious self. The restoration project involves a complete halt of fishing for aquarium fish in the reef, weekly (4-5 times/week) dives to clean the parasites off the corals, removal of the parasitic Crown of Thorns starfish which predates on the corals and the transplanting of baby corals and their upkeep.

In order to gain revenue to sustain the project and offer a fair remuneration to those who labour for it, Metamorfosa organizes snorkelling and scuba diving in the reef, canoe trips in the bay of Sumberkima and trips to White Sand Island where tourists can revel in the abundance of natural beauty. There is an underwater gallery in the making to make the underwater world even more attractive.

The larger project of the documentary series, titled Positive Pioneers is to highlight inspiring examples of positive change brought about by individuals in Bali & Lombok. We want to showcase powerful examples of what we consider tourism done in the right way. Each documentary focuses on an individual, their story and their mission.

How do you think this kind of documentary can inspire other communities to follow suit?

This documentary highlights not only a problem but also a solution. The solution involves collaboration between non state actors i.e. locals, non state sponsors i.e. Sumberkima Hill Retreat, local government and one individual with a plan i.e. Totok. Together, the powers of these groups come together and create a burgeoning system that can be replicated anywhere. The idea is to harness the power of the community and create a model that can be replicated by anyone, anywhere. And while the specifics of each project depend on the resources available, this relationship between communities, governments, visionaries and donors is what we hope to replicate elsewhere. Totok truly believes that this plan can be replicated all across Indonesia and even across the globe.

When is the release and how can we watch it?

The documentaries will be released on April 23rd, after which you can easily find them on our website.

A special thanks to Martijn van Monsjou & Tobias Buijs for making this breathtaking documentary!