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Up for auction: Indonesian archipelago with one of the world's most unspoiled ecosystems

To preserve the ecosystem of Widi Reserve—considered one of the most unspoiled on the planet—an auction is being held by Sotheby's so that the future buyer can turn it into a sustainable destination

Published: Nov 25, 2022 03:06:42 PM IST
Updated: Nov 25, 2022 03:08:54 PM IST

Up for auction: Indonesian archipelago with one of the world's most unspoiled ecosystemsWidi Reserve, home one of the world's most unspoiled ecosystems, is up for auction. Widi Reserve, home one of the world's most unspoiled ecosystems, is up for auction. Iamge: Courtesy of Sotheby's©

Located in the heart of a 315,000 hectare protected marine area, the Widi Reserve, home to more than a hundred Indonesian islands, is inhabited by hundreds of rare and protected species of marine mammals, fish and birds. To preserve this ecosystem—considered one of the most unspoiled on the planet—an auction is being held by Sotheby's so that the future buyer can turn it into a sustainable destination.

Just imagine: 150 kilometers of white sandy beaches with waters ranging from turquoise to deep blue. In the water, you might notice a multitude of colorful fish, not to mention turtles or marine mammals. Heading further inland, there are lizards and a plethora of birds. Welcome to the Widi Reserve, in the heart of a geographical area known as the Coral Triangle in the very east of Indonesia. Here, more than a hundred islands are uninhabited and totally untouched by human activity. Blue whales, but also whale sharks, approach the coastline, while more than 600 species of marine mammals, fish and birds make up the only inhabitants of this unspoiled landscape. In fact, not all the species present may yet have been discovered! Needless to say, this is one of the most pristine, untouched coral atoll ecosystems in the world, reports Sotheby's, which has been entrusted with auctioning this extraordinary destination.

Fortunately, the auction is not about turning the Widi Reserve into a trendy new travel hotspot, but rather of making it part of an eco-responsible project to preserve this unique biodiversity. Covering an area of 10,000 hectares, this archipelago must prove that humanity is capable of living in harmony with nature, says the auction house. Indeed, the future buyer's hotel developments will have to respect certain environmental requirements. For example, the developer's rights currently only authorize the opening of 500 rooms spread over 17 islands.

Usually, the Indonesian authorities do not allow foreign buyers to purchase islands. In this respect, this auction is already atypical. As a get around, the exclusive licenses for the development and management of the Widi Reserve are held by a holding company called PT. Leadership Islands Indonesia. The auction, held December 8-14 in New York, will actually be an investment in this Indonesian company to gain control of the nature reserve. Hotel development plans have already been devised and take the form of eco-lodges, designed by Bill Bensley, an American architect known for his luxurious projects. Moreover, buyers will need to prove they have the financial means to purchase this gem, since a bidder deposit of $100,000 is required to take part.

Also read: Forests of the future: A national economic opportunity

While the intention to preserve biodiversity is commendable, note that the Widi Reserve is a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Bali. An airstrip will therefore be necessary to allow people to reach the white sands of this extraordinary destination. A development project for a 1,000-meter long runway is already planned to accommodate private jets.

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