A previously untouched Indonesian archipelago is going to be sold off in auction in the coming weeks, leading to concerns from conservationists.
The archipelago, known as the Widi Reserve, goes up for auction on December 8 at Sotheby’s Auction House in New York. According to reports, potential buyers will be required to put down a good-faith deposit of $100,000.
The Widi Reserve is smack in the middle of Indonesia’s Coral Triangle, a stunningly pristine chunk of the world in the western Pacific Ocean. It includes the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and Solomon Islands. It’s vitally important to the sea life in the region, with more than 2,000 species of fish calling it home. It supports huge numbers of tuna that are the backbone of the multi-billion dollar global tuna fishing industry. And the Widi Reserve is likely the most pristine of the whole Coral Triangle.
“The Widi Reserve is a coral atoll archipelago boasting 100-plus uninhabited, pristine tropical islands fringed by 150 kilometers of powder white sand beaches, thriving coral reefs, and private, deep-sea, nutrient-rich waters,” a bidding site wrote. “This island chain is one of the most intact coral atoll ecosystems left on earth and an animal kingdom of epic proportions, home to hundreds of rare and endangered species including blue hales, whale sharks, 600 documented species of marine mammals, fish, birds, insects and lizards, and species yet to be discovered. Separated not only by space and time, but by extraordinary natural beauty and total privacy, it is one of the most breathtaking properties anywhere on Earth.”
For developers, the Widi Reserve is likely a tempting purchase. Already, plans are in the works for a luxury resort. “PT. Leadership Islands Indonesia (LII) has spent several years carefully master-planning, designing and licensing one of the most environmentally sensitive, low-density luxury resort and residency developments in the world,” PrivateIslandsOnline.com wrote. ” The opportunity to conserve and sustainably develop the Widi Reserve by acquiring interests in LII presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity.” The website for Leadership Islands Indonesia (LII) states that the entity is a “marine pollution management consultant.”
The buyer, whomever it may be, will not be the sole owner of the reserve. Indonesian law doesn’t allow for private ownership of islands, but shares in a business planning on developing can be sold to anyone.
“Every billionaire can own a private island; but only one can own this exclusive opportunity spread across 100-plus islands,” Charlie Smith, Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions’ executive vice president said in a statement. “We’re presenting a prime opportunity for any discerning buyer in the world to participate in the conservation and development of one of the most pristine areas on earth – all available for your bid price.” No estimates were immediately available regarding the amount of people the resort and/or development would potentially bring to the area.
The Widi Reserve is about 25,000 acres across 17 islands. While the potential plans all do claim to be “close to 100 percent natural and sustainable,” there’s nothing quite as natural as nature itself.