A few months ago, I and a few friends helped out a UCSB Graduate Student Kitty Currier of the Department of Geography, with obtaining technology equipment for her year long trip to Indonesia. The following is about her research…

Perhaps you wondered what you laptop will be doing halfway around the world. It will be used by locals in northwest Bali for making maps and environmental planning. My dissertation research looks at how to use crowdsourced geographic information–i.e., maps made by local people–to understand how people think about environmental resources. This information becomes especially useful in environmental planning, whether planning for a new public open space, marine protected area, garbage dump, and so on.

I’m especially interested in marine environmental resources, and that is what brings me here to Bali. Just off the northwest coast is a small island called Menjangan, and it’s surrounded by beautiful coral reefs. Diving and snorkeling off Menjangan have been growing in popularity over the past few years, which has brought much-needed revenue to this part of Bali. However, reef studies conducted over the past couple decades suggest that parts of Menjangan’s reefs are in decline, probably due to a combination of factors (physical damage from boat anchors and divers breaking coral, sediment runoff from the mainland, overloading of nutrients from sewage runoff, and an abundance of plastic trash that settles on the corals and chokes other marine life).

Over the next year I’ll be teaching people here how to use Google Earth and another, more specialized internet-based mapping tool called SeaSketch. Together we’ll these tools to (1) map where trash accumulates on the land, (2) map other land-based sources of pollution, like sewage, and (3) design a regional waste management plan. In this part of Bali there is no trash collection service or recycling; burning is the normal way to get rid of trash. There is no pubic sanitation system, either, which is getting to be a real problem at Menjangan as the number of visitors to the island increases.

My dissertation research is part of a larger, long-term effort by a non-profit organization called Biosphere Foundation. Since 2008, BF has been working with local divers, boat drivers, farmers and national park guides to promote sustainable tourism and farming practices in this part of Bali. I’ve been affiliated with BF for the past 10 years or so, and through this connection I’m lucky enough to apply my dissertation research to real-world issues.

This email has gotten much longer than I intended, but I wanted to tell you a bit about the project you’ve generously supported by donating your laptop. I’m conducting the project on a shoestring budget, so I really appreciate your support.

If you’d like to read more about BF’s projects at Menjangan, please see BF’s current projects page and the Friends of Menjangan Facebook page. Please also feel free to ask me questions and I’d be happy to share more.

Terima kasih (thanks) again,

Update as of 20151103, Here are some pictures to share