April 2, 2023
The Widi Nature Reserve or Widi Reserve, a nature reserve and archipelago of more than 100 islands located in South Halmahera will be auctioned at Sotheby's, New York, United States from December 8-14 2022. This 25,000 hectare uninhabited reserve is renowned for its natural landscape, including white sand beaches, rainforest and hundreds of endangered species.

 Reporting from Insider, Friday (2/12), the auction for the 100 islands did not mention an initial price, but those who are interested must submit a deposit of USD 100 thousand to bid. This uninhabited reserve is uninhabited, but is occasionally visited by small communities as well as fishermen. The owner of the Widi Nature Reserve will automatically acquire shares from PT Leadership Islands Indonesia (LII), so that the owner is free to develop the island.

Once auctioned off, the islands will become luxury resorts, and there will be a private airstrip that can serve guests from Bali, Jakarta and Cairns. Billionaires can even own the island, but they will be selected first through this auction.

However, the auction has raised concerns among some conservationists, including from Destructive Fishing Watch Indonesia (DFWI), and asked the Indonesian government to investigate the auction.

Although the development of the resort is also planned for environmental protection, private ownership of the islands will impact the local community from a social and economic perspective.

“The social impact of this plan will offset the environmental benefits. Currently, the government is aggressively attracting foreign investment to obtain state revenue. No regulations have to be changed for this plan to pass,” said Mohamad Abdi Suhufan, national coordinator at DFWI.

“How can you guarantee that these islands will not be exploited for tourism activities? And what about local people's access after the islands become private property?” added local environmental expert, Iwan Sofiawan.

The development that will be carried out on islands is considered to be able to break up local communities and threaten ecosystems such as rainforests, mangroves, lagoons and coral reefs. Some of these include blue whales, whale sharks, and yet to be discovered species.

Even so, Charlie Smith, executive vice president of Sotheby's Concierge Auction, said the company's plans touch less than 1 percent of the rainforest, and 0.005 percent of all reserves. With areas that are prohibited for tourists and spaces that limit the number of guests.

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