Today I am spotlighting a nonprofit organization located on Gili Trawangan called Gili Eco Trust. The nongovernment organization works toward marine conservation, waste management, and sustainable eco-tourism. In this article you will find information about this organization, its mission, goals, and how you can get involved. I also have a short interview at the end with Sian Williams from the organization where she shares why she feels GET is so special and some upcoming campaigns. You can also check out a blog post I wrote for them on their blog here! I would love it if you could show the post and the organization some support!
Mission (from website)
Our mission is to create a sustainable island. To promote ecotourism and provide a healthy environment for working animals. To restore our coral reefs and to replenish our natural fish populations. To ensure that all waste created on Gili T is reduced to minimum levels and managed and separated properly for recycling projects where materials can be transported off the island.
To ensure the livelihoods of the local community is enhanced.
Goals (from website)
Creating a series of coral nurseries to promote young coral growth in new areas.
Installing moorings to create more parking space for boats to eliminate the use of anchors.
Solidify the 5-bin-separation strategy so all households and resorts can effectively separate their trash to maximize recycling.
Manage the island TPST as an integrated waste management hub of the island and increase more employment in the waste and sustainability sector.
Continue to hold a beach clean up at least once a week to engage tourists, ex-pats and the local community to work together to keep beaches clean and raise awareness.
Initiate more schemes like RefillMyBottle to encourage less single-use plastic use amongst tourists and backpackers.
Ensure that the working horses of Gili are treated under humane and acceptable conditions, teaching properly care and handling and providing free healthcare and checkups at organized clinics or whenever needed.
A zero-waste-to-landfill approach to an island community, using methods in recycling, repurposing, composting and eventually waste to energy initiatives to create a net-zero island.
Start the Eco Rangers patrolling. A green police force who will educate and empower businesses and the local community to look after their environment for a sustainable future.
What They Do
Gili Eco Trust has four focuses: reef restoration, eco tourism, waste management, and animal welfare.
Reef Restoration: With Biorock technology, they are able to protect delicate or dislodged coral from climate change, coral bleaching and increased storm activity. Saving and preserving coral reefs is important because they are endangered due to human interaction. 10% of coral reefs world wide have been destroyed. Using Biorock, GET is able to increase the recovery rate of coral reefs from the mass damage.
Eco Tourism: Since the Gili islands are big tourist attractions, the organizations strives to educate people about how to participate in the full range of activities without hurting any of the diverse terrain and habitats. It also promotes a zero waste waste lifestyle through their gift shop that showcases zero waste goods and local, handmade artisan products like handmade soaps, shampoo bars and more.
Waste Management: With the FMPL, Gili Eco Trust helped establish the first recycling station in Gili Trawangan. It is called Bank Sampah Gili Indah. GET aims to sort garbage from the entire island to maximize the number of items recycled. It aimed for the future of the island to be waste free, however this is still in process. However, with many campaigns and efforts towards this goal, the island is well on its way towards reaching this goal.
Animal Welfare: Although they do not focus on this, GET does care about animal welfare on the island. They support other animal focused organizations and projects on the island.
How to Get Involved
On their website, they outline a variety of things you can do to help them in their mission. It all simmers down to giving your time, money and support.
If you are on the island, you can volunteer in a variety of things such as beach clean ups, educational tours and safaris. If you are staying for a few months, you can also sign up to volunteer for a variety of things on the island. Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities. (Note: COVID may have changed some of these details and you may need to contact them directly to find current details.)
You can also donate money. Right now, the three main project fundraising goals are to continue to feed the starving horses left furloughed since the pandemic, to help fund a new ethical turtle hatchery to protect the nesting turtles around the island and help the cats on the island.
Click here for a list of current campaigns/projects that need funding.
Lastly, and arguably the easiest thing you can do, is to just be a responsible citizen. We are all living on the same planet, therefore we are all responsible for helping it in any way we can. So any changes you can make in your daily life that can help the planet are great. This includes reducing the amount of waste you throw away each day, supporting businesses that also strive towards eco-friendly goals, walking instead of driving and more. Below I have two links from the GET website about how to be more eco-friendly both on and off the islands, however I may make a post in the future on this topic because it is so important.
Be a responsible tourist: https://giliecotrust.com/responsible-tourism/
10 plastic free kitchen hacks: https://giliecotrust.com/10-easy-plastic-free-kitchen-hacks-you-can-utilize-today/
For this article, I had the pleasure of working with Sian who works on a variety of projects at GET. She helped me ensure the information in this article is all accurate. I also worked with her on another nature article about climate change which you can find on their blog (here). While working with her I was also able to ask her some questions about the organization which I have recorded in an interview style below!
What do you think makes Gili Eco Trust unique?
Gili Eco Trust (GET) is pretty unique as it offers a holistic approach to island-wide conservation. Many NGOs (nongovernment organizations) will focus either on marine restoration, eco-tourism, turtle conservation or waste management. Due to the difficulty of registering NGOs and Foundations in Indonesia, we operate to cover all of the above! We have a great deal of local knowledge and aim to communicate and educate on multiple levels, whether that is with the government and authorities, the local businesses, particularly in hospitality, the local community, the local children in the schools and tourists on the beach and in our Eco Shop. We realize the importance of communication at all levels so have set about to teach, educate and inspire to all and everyone who makes and creates impacts on our island.
How can someone get involved when they are not on the islands?
There are plenty of ways to get involved at the moment! Seeing as tourism has stopped for almost a year and a half and our volunteers have had to go home, we’ve had remote volunteers helping us with grant applications, social media and blog writing. We used to be able to shout pretty loudly on our tiny island, but now we have to use new strategies and technology to be able to shout it worldwide. We love to receive news, updates and hints from our supporters about fundraising opportunities or grants that we could apply for. We’ve also started a new fundraising campaign on GiveAsia. If everyone that visited the Gilis donated as much as a cup of coffee, we could keep running our projects throughout the year, we know coffee is a bit more expensive elsewhere in the world, but this would help us to help the environment even further. You can see more about our campaigns here. What do you think one of your biggest successes are as an organization?
Creating a collaborative movement between Gili stakeholders, recreational activity leaders, government and authorities, local community and tourists. Through this we have been able to learn and help aid communication structures between each to move forward as an island with lots of progress.
More than 150 Biorock structures that regenerate and repopulate the coral reefs around the islands that have been previously damaged by anchors, fishing and storms.
What are some campaigns or events you are currently running?
We currently have a Treevolution campaign to plant 5,000 trees across the 3 Gilis this year
Coral planting campaign to propagate more than 500 baby corals and plant them in our coral nurseries
Health and welfare workshops with the Corporation of Working Horses (Janur Indah Korperasi) to improve welfare, health and living standards of the working ponies on the Gili Islands
Emergency cat feeding programs of all strays left abandoned on the island throughout Covid (daily feeding of more than 300 cats and supplementing food to unemployed local families)
Weekly beach cleaning efforts to keep the island clean, offering free waste management and separation training at each event
Turtle tracking and monitoring of the turtle nests throughout the nesting season (April to September)
Fundraising through some big campaigns with Give Asia to be able to fund these projects whilst our main source of income (tourist donations) are not available. (SOME) I feel like I have missed so many! Every minute seems to be focused on a different project!
What are some future plans, events, or campaigns people should be on the look out for?
Anchor watch – weekly monitoring of illegal anchor activity within the MPA Gili Matra to see how many boats are defying the rules and dropping anchors in reef rehabilitation zones
Marine microplastic beach surveys
Water quality assessment and analysis with German research institute – ZMT. Analyzing the quality of water whilst tourism is dormant to then compare this as the island recovers from the financial and health crisis.
Collaboration with Miami based clean up organization Fill A Bag to get solo clean up stations installed across Gili beaches.
Turtle identification program and adopt a turtle campaign
Turtle nest relocation and rehab centre on Gili T to protect turtle eggs before release and to rescue and nurse sick turtles back to health.
Cat and horse clinics with international vet volunteers when travel resumes as normal
Online campaigns and LIVE talks & podcasts
Volunteer and internship programs for zero-hero eco-warriors
Plastic Free July
I hope you enjoyed this non-profit spotlight. You can check out my other one on Kids Saving the Rainforest below. Also, don't forget to follow them on Instagram (@giliecotrust) and check out their website here! I just want to say again a huge thank you to Sian for her time helping me create this article!
All photos are credited to Gili Eco Trust.