How Banyan Tree is Saving Fireflies in Bali

The light-emitting beetles are the focus of a unique resort-based conservatory launching this March.

Wayan Wardika (center) and colleagues from Wise Organic outside the Lentera Bumi nursery. (All photos courtesy of Banyan Tree Group)

With its open “no-walls, no-doors” concept, Buahan, a Banyan Tree Escape has sustainability in its DNA, from organic gardens and a zero-waste kitchen to the use of reclaimed timber from old jetties. Now, the lush four-hectare property in the hills north of Ubud has turned its attention to a smaller but no less magical wonder of nature: fireflies.

Known locally as kunang-kunang, the light-emitting beetles have long been a familiar sight in the hills of central Bali, but their populations are dwindling due to widespread pesticide use and habitat loss. Buahan aims to help redress this with its Lentera Bumi (“Lantern of the Earth”) conservation program. Working with biologists from Denpasar’s Udayana University and local eco-consultancy Wise Organic, the resort has built a bamboo-framed breeding nursery where firefly larvae are kept safe from predators and fed on organic compost from an on-site farm and neighboring rice field.

Inspired by the Balinese philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, which emphasizes harmony with nature, the initiative officially launches on March 22, when the island observes its traditional New Year with a day of silence and reflection. Lentera Bumi intends to release about 200 fireflies that night, lighting up the forest with their luminous display. We expect a glowing report.

Inspecting firefly larvae at Lentera Bumi.

A bird’s-eye view of the pool area and main pavilion at Buahan, A Banyan Tree Resort.

A trio of adult fireflies.

This article originally appeared in the March/May 2023 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“On a Bright Note”).

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