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Biosphere Foundation

About

Our goal is to inspire intelligent use of the earth’s natural resources and empower individuals to become leaders in biosphere stewardship.

We collaborate with island communities to find sustainable solutions to the environmental challenges facing our oceans, reefs, forests, and rivers.

We see humans as an integral part of the biosphere and the "biomes" they create: the cities, the villages and the farms, as part of the total picture, and in need of careful, sustainable management.

Our stewardship programs aim to connect young people with the beauty and abundance of the planet and inspire them to become "eco-warriors" of the future.

Founded
1992

Reviews

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Fernanda
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

10 days were not enough

This experience has been one of the most rewarding travels I have done in my short life. I got to know about this program because of one friend that attended the year before and since the moment she told me her adventures, I fell in love and wanted to participate as well.

Since the moment I arrived in Denpasar, the staff were there, taking care of us and throughout the whole time, I felt 100% safe. Living in the middle of the jungle with 9 local students, 5 international ones and around 9 staff members, I never felt isolated, I was surrounded by nature and incredible people.

All participants were passionate about the environmental preservation and I learned a lot from them as well as I was able to share my opinion during all the presentations and discussions we had. I consider that from all my travels, this one is distinguished due to the fact that the cultural understanding was better because of the interaction with local students at breakfast, lunch, dinner, activities and even in the dormitory for 10 days.

I do not want to spoil what you will live, but I can ensure you that it will be worthy. The people, the culture, nature, the learning, the beauty of Bali and the program itself will captivate you the same way I am.

What would you improve about this program?
By strengthening the connections with ex-participants and letting us know if they are taking part in any project we can follow and participate.
Kathleen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An eye-opening experience that every youth should have

The Biosphere Adventure Program has something for everyone. It combines fundamental knowledge about science and the environment with the wisdom and experience of those who work every day to care. The reflections and activities they have will broaden your perspective to help you understand wider issues in manageable bite-sized pieces. The accommodation is beautiful and the care that is taken to ensure your safety and comfort is amazing. The best part for me were the opportunities for cultural exchange, spending 8 days with complete strangers who quickly became friends in spite of language barriers. Sierra and Nono and those working with them will inspire and educate you no matter your background and how much you know about the environment, with all encouragement and no judgement. It's a wonderful place for youth to learn and experience nature and I highly recommend this program.

What would you improve about this program?
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Mackenzie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Experience of a Lifetime: Biosphere Stewardship Program

My experience at the International Biosphere Stewardship Program was absolutely incredible. I had the opportunity to be part of group of 15 students from Bali, India, Cambodia, Puerto Rico and the USA. The varied cultural perspectives we each brought to the program helped create an experience unlike any other in my life. Although we came from different cultures and backgrounds, and didn’t all speak the same language, we quickly became a team. We built our friendships on our shared goal of preserving our precious blue planet.

Our daily activities centered around learning about the ecosystems of Bali Barat National Park, as well as the environmental challenges facing the region and our Earth as a whole. Snorkeling on Menjangan Island’s coral reef, we discovered the beauty of the underwater world but were also struck by the alarming signs of human destruction caused by anchor damage and plastics pollution. I loved having the chance to work together as a team on coral reef and other community conservation projects Biosphere Foundation is doing in collaboration with Friends of Menjangan. We worked with local Balinese on beach cleanups, reforested a mangrove, weeded a plot for a sustainable farming project, and cleared the invasive species lantana from the monsoon forest to promote reforestation. We also learned how to repurpose Styrofoam trash to make cushions and how to recycle plastic to make wallets and bags at a local waste recycling program.

Since many of the local Balinese students spoke little English, one of my favorite parts of the experience was learning how to communicate and connect deeply without words, especially during times when we were not with the whole group and our translators. Although in these moments we couldn’t find the words to express what we were feeling, emotions became our new language: laughter, happy tears, nostalgic tears when the program ended, and smiles.

The most memorable moment for me was on the last night when we walked down to the jetty and released little boats made out of banana leaves with a candle inside onto the water, and made a wish. Over the ten days of the stewardship program our group became unbelievably close. We not only made friendships to last a lifetime, but we also individually made vows for how we were going to bring change to our own communities to fuel the healing of our Earth.

I absolutely loved this program and would recommend it to every person in the world if I could. It pushes you out of your comfort zone in the best possible way, opening your eyes and heart to new and moving experiences. It has inspired me to wish to always seek profound connection with others in service of our world for the rest of my life.

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George
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A life-changing experience!

On 24th June I flew to Denpasar in Bali and drove five hours to Bali Barat National Park, in the northwest corner of the island, to join the Biosphere Foundation International Environmental Stewardship Programme, along with other international and Balinese students. The programme aimed to bring together young people from all over the world and teach them about the world’s biospheres and how to protect them. Bali is an incredible location for this as it is home to such biodiversity, due to small size and huge scope of regions; from mountainous regions to costal areas. Throughout my time on the programme I learnt about the different regions of Bali and their unique ecosystems. I say unique because they are all in such close proximity, but in fact Bali plays host to biosphere’s that are found all around the world, which is why it is so interesting for scientists, such as Sierra Silverstone, who runs the programme.
I arrived in Bali Barat late on the first day, but we all ate together and, with the help of a translator, the Balinese students asked questions to the international students and vice versa. This was a really good way to start the programme, not only because it helped everyone get to know each other, but it made the international students, including me, realise how vastly different our cultures were. It truly was a cultural immersion for both the international and Balinese students and the start of real friendships.
Every morning we were woken up early to go with the Balinese students to pray, so that we would know what to do when we visited the temple later on in the week.
Over the course of my time in Bali, we joined various environmental projects that the Biosphere Foundation was working on, such as: clearing rubbish around the mangroves, looking at the work that the foundation was doing to protect the coral reefs, planting endemic species of trees which are becoming more and more rare in Bali, and removing invasive species, as well as working with local farmers to try and implement more efficient irrigation systems to try and combat draught, which is becoming an ever increasing problem on the island. Each day we were able to travel a very short distance to visit a new biome thanks to Bali’s rich biodiversity. Whenever we came back from a project, in the evening we would have a presentation, from either our guide Nono or Sierra from the Biosphere Foundation, to give us a broader understanding of the problems that faced that specific biomes and how the work of charities like the Biosphere Foundation were helping to improve the situation.
I think that clearing the rubbish from the mangroves had a very big impact upon the Balinese students because it demonstrated the direct effects of throwing out plastic waste. There is no government operated rubbish collection available in Bali, so much of the rubbish is thrown on the side of the road and is carried down to the water during floods in the rainy season. I think this made the Balinese students consider whether their rubbish ended up, and it was a very visual reminder for us of the importance of the mangroves acting as a ‘natural filter’ and barrier, protecting the land from erosion and the sea from plastic waste.
The Biosphere Foundation works with farmers in various regions of Bali to try and resolve issues of water shortage in the dry season and flooding in the rainy season. As the programme took place at the end of the rainy season, during the time we were there, we worked with farmers in preparation for the dry season. So as to carry out their experiments, the charity uses a small sample area of a farmer’s land. Whilst we were there, we experimented with inter-planting of crops, using sorghum (a grain) and cucumber seeds, which we hoped would grow well with one another because sorghum uses relatively little water and grows tall and straight which we thought would act as a support for the growing of the cucumber, which uses more water.
One of my favourite experiences during the trip was visiting the various coral reefs which surround Bali, despite the fact that a tragically large percentage of the coral had died or been bleached, we were still able to visit and help protect some of the most amazing and diverse coral reefs in the world. The fact that we visited these incredible biomes with people who were truly interested, knowledgeable and passionate about protecting them, made the whole experience even more special, because we learnt so much.
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go to Bali and join this programme. I have feel that I have come away with a greater environmental knowledge and consciousness, as well as experienced an otherwise impossible cultural immersion which has taught me so much and made me consider the way that I act in my day to day life.

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Fumika
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

4 years ago, yet still very memorable

Biosphere Stewardship Program was one of my best memories I've made in High School. Bali Barat National Park, and the surrounding coral reefs and mangroves were the most beautiful sites I've ever seen. From chilly midnight chats with my friends, to bumpy boat rides across the crystal clear oceans, the memories I've made here are endless.

The program was very organised, and it allowed us to get an insight to the various sites of Bali, and the conservation work that goes on. It not only exposed us to the natural beauty of Bali, but also showed us the cultural sides, which gave us a glimpse into their local cuisine and dance performances. The staff were very supportive and their passion for conservation shone through.

The diversity of participants in this program was also a great feature of this program. There were students from California, Hawaii, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, including students from the local communities, and I enjoyed hearing all of their stories.

If you appreciate the natural beauty of this world, you must go on this program to see how beautiful Bali is. I highly recommend it!

Programs

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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Sally Silverstone

Job Title
Education Program Coordinator
Sally Silverstone was one of the eight member crew who lived inside Biosphere 2, a totally enclosed ecological system for 2 years. Since that time she has worked with Biosphere Foundation to help connect young people with the beauty and wonder of our planet and the challenges it faces. She is currently working in Indonesia with the local community to promote organic farming and forestry restoration, and is the lead educator on the International Biosphere Stewardship Program.
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What is your favorite travel memory?

It was an evening several years ago toward the end of our international stewardship program. We were all sitting in a circle under the canopy talking in turns about the ecological problems that were facing in our home countries and what we, as individuals, could do to help.

All around us the forest was dark and silent and all were deeply engrossed in the conversation. Suddenly one of the students looked up and pointed in amazement, holding a finger to his lips to indicate to us that we should be quiet.

Slowly we all turned around, and there, circling our tent was a whole heard of miniature deer (normally very shy creatures who run from humans) who were staring in at us. It was as if they had come to join our circle and definitely had something to say about conservation. Our lamp was reflected in their huge eyes and their ears were high and alert as if they were listening to every word.

"Don't worry" whispered one of the Balinese students, "we will do everything we can to save your forest". They stood for a little longer and then went silently on their way - it was a magic moment, such a blessing.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Although I have worked with many different outdoor education programs, I have been running the International Stewardship Program in Bali for 4 years now, and it is my favorite program of all time. I have worked with students from all over the world along side many young people from my community here in Bali, and have been truly inspired by all of them.

Each year I learn more about what is happening in the students' own countries and the innovative ways they have tackled conservation issues. It is also such a joy to see long term friendships grow between the Balinese students and the international students.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Biosphere Foundation is unique in that our work is very much based on the experience that we gained operating the Biosphere 2 Project.

Having gained this perspective on how to operate a biosphere (our planet earth is also a biosphere), the founders of Biosphere Foundation have dedicated the last 20 years to promoting sustainable, intelligent use of our planets resources.

We aim to bring this experience to our stewardship program, giving our students full immersion into as many different ecosystems as we can, looking at the ways the systems interact with other and the ways that humans impact these systems.

Because our foundation has operated in NW Bali for many years, we're able to integrate our program in the community and truly engage our students to make a useful contribution.

Our team consists of both international and local staff who give their all to the work that they do, they are all dedicated community activists and I am constantly proud of them.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe that to be successful in this line of work you have to be open and prepared to be constantly learning. Everyone has something to contribute - students, staff, and community members. Our foundation could not operate without the support of our friends around the planet.