Release Program

The Bali Starling Project was Begawan Foundation's first initiative, established in 1999 with the aim of saving this precious bird from the very real threat of extinction.


Creating a Vision of Sustainability


Begawan Foundation is the brainchild of Bradley and Debbie Gardner, who were also the creative forces behind the world-renowned Begawan Giri Estate on the Indonesian island of Bali. After discovering this magical spot while holidaying on the island in 1989, the couple formed a vision to create a private estate at Begawan that would be both economically viable and sustain the surrounding villages.


Bradley and Debbie began by constructing a bamboo house that served as both their home and their office. Begawan Village had few facilities in 1991. It had no “roads”, just mud paths. There was neither running water, electricity nor telephone lines. The bamboo house was lit by candles and oil lamps. A charcoal-burning oven was built, with large terracotta pots to heat water that had to be carried up a mountain slope from springs located around the estate. But the Gardners persevered, and over the next 10 years, undertook the process of understanding the land, creating the gardens and planning with Malaysian architect Cheong Yew Kuan the creation that followed.


Begawan Giri Estate began to take shape. Right from the outset, the Gardners decided that its landscape should be a key factor. It would be developed without imposing upon it. The materials they chose for building the homes would echo their surroundings. Recycled timber would be used wherever possible. The homes would be integrated naturally with the gardens.


In the early years, the couple spent a lot of time simply sitting in the gardens and understanding the land. They terraced the slope of the mountain and constructed the Water Gardens. The Amphitheatre was created for cultural events that continue today.


More than 2,500 trees were planted on the Estate, including coconuts, mahogany and teak, as well as a bamboo grove. Besides these, the Gardners planted coffee, cacao, aloe vera, lemongrass, cashew nut, and a myriad varieties of banana. Vegetable gardens and fish farms were created, and pig breeding farms constructed with the local farmers, to create sustainable farming and produce supplied to the Estate.


Begawan Foundation is born


In 1999, Bradley and Debbie decided to establish Begawan Foundation as a means to contribute to the local community in the areas of education, health and the environment. Its first initiative was the Bali Starling Conservation Project, which got underway with the arrival of four Bali Starlings brought from England on 24th June 1999.


Education was another focus. In 2000, they started a kindergarten for the children of the surrounding villages. Every morning, the youngsters would come to Begawan Giri Estate, where they were introduced to English via games, books and simple conversation. They also learned about conservation, observed the birds, and took part in gardening. Heads of department and staff were their teachers.


A clinic was established to cater for the healthcare needs of the Estate’s employees and their families. The doctor and nurse there also taught the children about the elements of hygiene and health, in order to ensure that they came to regard healthcare as an integral part of growing up. In addition, the Gardners started to take a personal interest in helping local children suffering from Hirschsprung’s Disease when they discovered that a child of one of their employees was suffering from this congenital disorder. Characterised by the absence of nerve cells in the large intestine, it affects approximately 1 in 5,000 children, mainly boys. Instead of sending children overseas, they ensured that local youngsters suffering from this potentially fatal illness had access to adequate treatment, by bringing in qualified doctors from Singapore to train local doctors.


As the Foundation gathered momentum, the Estate’s commercial activities also flourished. In 2002, the Conde Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Awards voted it No. 1 in its Top 100 “Best of the Best”, while also naming “The Source”, Begawan Giri Estate’s Spa, as the “Best Overseas Hotel Spa of the Year”.


In 2004, the Gardners decided that they had already achieved many of their goals as hoteliers, and that it was time to pursue their other interests. They sold Begawan Giri Estate that year, and they have since devoted their considerable energies to developing the Foundation and its work.


Bradley’s growing concerns about environmental issues also led him to take the initiative in forming The GreenAsia Group in 2007. He sees this as a natural progression of the work that he and Debbie began at Begawan Giri Estate, in terms of contributing to the creation of a greener and more sustainable environment throughout the region and helping communities in some of its least-developed areas. The GreenAsia Group supports Begawan Foundation.


  • I would like to thank Begawan Foundation and the teaching staff who have educated and taught many things to my child. After a year studying at BF, my child has undergone many changes. My child was shy and didn't really care about the environment. Now she is brave, she dares to speak her opinion in front of a crowd, and now she really cares about the environment. She likes to plant trees, sort organic and inorganic waste, and her grades at school are starting to improve. I hope that in the future Begawan Foundation will continue to produce independent, innovative children who care for the Earth.

    -Ni Made Intan's Parents (BF Learning Center Student's Parents)

  • I would like to thank Begawan Foundatian and the teaching staff for their guidance to my children. I am very happy to see their progress. Beside developing their personalities, they have also started to take responsibility and carry out their duties independently. I hope that in the future Begawan Foundation will continue and there will be more students.



    -Sangtu and Sangade's Parents (BF Learning Center Student's Parents)

  • After participating in the activities at BF, my child is more expressive. She studies more actively and she’s very knowledgeable. I like the “learning by doing” method, it’s very helpful. I hope more children can take part in the lessons. This is very useful in Banjar Pengaji, particularly in Melinggih Kelod. Thank you Begawan Foundation and keep up the spirit.



    -Gandari’s Parents (BF Learning Center Student's Parents)

  • I personally have a positive response to the BF program since it was introduced at school and I supported my children to take their lessons. The children are happy to join the environmental tourism program, the cooking lessons add to their ability to prepare their own food, the drama performances increase their confidence in public, and the video competition makes them learn the use of digital tools. The environmental program adds to their understanding of the importance of cleanliness and nature preservation. I hope the BF learning program will continue.



    -Kintan's Parents (BF Learning Center Student's Parents)

  • I would like to thank you for the attention, time, patience, and materials that have been received by my children while participating at BF. I have seen so much progress and development in my children, in terms of new abilities and skills, and much better self-confidence. As a parent, I like to participate in the learning activities and environmental assessment. I support the programs at the Begawan Foundation. Thank you to all the teachers at Begawan Foundation.



    -Putu Cantika and Kadek Agus’s Parents (BF Learning Center Student's Parents)

  • I would like to thank you for all the time, patience, dedication, and materials that have been given to my daughter who is participating in the BF programme. I have seen so much development in my child, in terms of knowledge, skills, insight, and now she has much better confidence. She always wants to participate in all activities very seriously. For me, that is a very extraordinary thing. I would like to thank you very much for all the efforts the BF team has done.



    -Gusti Ayu Keysha Maheswari’s Parent (BF Learning Center Student's Parent)

  • We learned a lot about how a conservation NGO works, and enjoyed a lot being part of the team. We cherished the meetings we had with the Founder. We also valued the experience we had in participating in the clean-up with a local school.

    -Pearl & Meow, volunteers from OPCFHK

  • We became aware how significant it is for community and conservation to work together from our volunteering experience. Thank you for doing a great job, Begawan Foundation!

    -Aaron & Nicholas, volunteers from OPCFHK

  • By volunteering with Begawan Foundation, we undertook real-life experiences that demonstrate when students are given opportunities, they are more involved in conservation efforts. We see how the students always arrive early before the activities and try their best to find the answers and learn during the process. Another interesting observation we had was that the decoration for the Drama Musical was from the environment, using flowers.

    -Katherina & Anna, volunteers from OPCFHK

  • Hopefully Begawan Foundation can continue their great efforts in the conservation of Bali Starlings and other birds, and also with the education program for local children. I think education for the younger generation is very important. I hope my university and I can continue to have good relationship with Begawan Foundation and hope that there can be more research collaborations with the foundation to learn more about the Bali Starling.

    -Auliya Indiarti Zen (Indi), MSc. Animal Behaviour (Application for Conservation) student from Anglia Ruskin University

  • Many thanks to birdkeeper Dewa for the Balinese language lessons and all the fun times at the breeding centre. Moreover, I believe that Begawan Foundation will continue to successfully restore Bali Starling’s population and I wish them the best of luck in this mission.

    -Laurynas Veckys, Economic and Finance student from the University of Southampton

  • The volunteer opportunity was an unforgettable experience and all of the staff were so welcoming and friendly. I learned a lot and it motivated me to contribute even more in conservation and education. I hope Begawan Foundation will keep up their restless effort to conserve Bali Starlings and to educate the locals about wildlife, education and conservation. I think we need more foundations like this in order to increase people’s awareness about the global environmental threats we are facing.

    -Angelia Yulita (Angel), high school mathematics teacher from Jakarta

  • I first went to the Begawan's place about 5 years ago and was impressed, but am now even more so as the setup is highly professional. This time I went to do some filming for the 'Ubud in a Minute' YouTube channel where you can see a short film clip about it, and loved the place once again. I really think this has the potential to be a tourist attraction - with limited numbers, perhaps by appointment, and an entrance fee to help fund their work. 

    -Paul Greenway, guidebook author & film-maker

  • There is nowhere else that can teach me so much about Bali Starling other than the Begawan Foundation. The situation of Bali Starling captured my attention that I need to help in taking care of them, and not only the Bali Starling but also other species around us, especially those that are endangered of extinction. The activities we did there really broadened my horizon that we, as mere students, can take part on a bigger community to help in a bigger cause" and from Steven,"Begawan Foundation: a complete encyclopedia about the Bali starling, really introduced me to it.

    -Satya, Bina Bangsa School, Bandung

  • It was a most pleasant day and so nice to talk and discuss in a relaxed atmosphere.

    -David Jeggo, Durrell Wildlife Conservation

  • It was indeed a pleasure to see you again and am so glad to see the progress within a short time!

    -Dr Jean Paul Ly and Dr Carmen Lee from Animal Recovery Centre (ARVRC)

  • Thank you for the warm welcome that has been given by friends at Begawan Foundation (Mehd, Deva, Agung and other staff) as well as the information provided and the exchange of information to increase the population of Bali Starling with a better genetic quality. We are pleased to find that the released Bali Starlings at Green School that is adjacent to Begawan Foundation Breeding and Release Centre are flying freely in the wild and can be seen and enjoyed by everyone.

    -Tony Sumampau, Chair of APCB (Bali Starling Conservationists Association) and Vet drh. I Kadek Kesuma Atmaja from Bali Safari and Marine Park

  • Thanks to Mehd and all the staff at the Begawan Foundation for taking time to educate Derrick and his friends about the Bali Starling and the importance of nature! The Bali Starling is an iconic and real-life example of biodiversity conservation and the plight of endangered species that young kids can easily learn about and carry for the rest of their lives!

    -Brad Sanders from Harapan Rainforest

  • So wonderful to know that these individuals were available to help draw attention to your important work, and that through the releases they were able to participate in such a meaningful way

    -Steve Milpacher, Operations Director of World Parrot Trust

  • Had a wonderful 4 days there, saw various of bali starling doing very well  (one pasangan was going in and out their lobang with food!) and saw the kaketoes as well. Beautiful.

    -Marlisa Wareman, Director of Taman Indonesia in The Netherlands

  • Most impressed with work at Green School and great to meet Mehd who clearly has been instrumental in assisting both release and breeding programmes

    -Roger Wilkinson, Head of Field Conservation and Research and Andrew Owen, Curator of Birds, from Chester Zoo in UK

  • The breeding facilities for the Bali Starling are based within the grounds of the International Green School. These were of a very high standard and it was clear that the aviculturists there were very competent.

    -Andrew Owen, Curator of Birds, and Roger Wilkinson, Head of Field Conservation & Research, both from

  • To be honest your set up is by far the best I have seen in Indonesia.

    -Bob Jackson, a reputed Lorie breeder in the UK

  • I have great admiration for what Bradley … and you have achieved and I suspect that this will get the recognition it deserves in the fullness of time.

    -Dr Paul Jepson, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK

  • I had practised my Bahasa Indonesian for the trip to the centre, but hadn’t really been prepared for beyond that! My guide Anton’s English was far better than my Bahasa and the day went well, after our initial difficulties. I had a good look around the various cages and saw the lorikeets, starlings and others. I saw a number of free flying Bali Starlings in the vicinity. These certainly seem to be doing well there. After this we drove to Hutan Tembeling. It was a little quiet for birds by the time we arrived, but … we saw another starling near there. The views were spectacular on the coast … All in all it was a great day. I definitely hope to return to Nusa Penida one day.

    -Frank Hemmings, Curator, John T. Waterhouse Herbarium, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental

  • Overall it was a fantastic experience

    -Kayti Denham and Matt McCormick, and a group of secondary students from Bali International School

  • The main reason for birdwatchers to visit Nusa Penida is the iconic Bali Starling. The Bali Starling is a white bird with a blue eye patch. It very probably went extinct in the wild and has been sustained with captive bred introductions. Nusa Penida is a re-introduction site in a captive breeding program managed by the Bali Starling Project supported by Begawan Foundation. The project spent the first year persuading the fifteen thousand or so islanders not to catch or kill birds. The result is spectacular. Even native Balinese are awe struck at how closely wild birds can be observed.

    -Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, a well known wildlife celebrity from Sri Lanka


Feed Project

Our daily requirement for bird feed at the Begawan Foundation is dependent on your kind donations. We hope you will keep supporting our lovely birds!


Give a Hand Project

We accept volunteer applications all round the year. Its a great opportunity for anyone who is keen to learn about our birds here at Begawan Foundation.



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