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Bali, a Shrinking Island

Bali Post Warns That Much of Bali's Shoreline Under Threat by Erosion and Rising Seas.

(1/31/2009) An article in Bali Post reports that the geographic "face" of Bali is becoming smaller with each passing year. The paper warns that the weak commitment of the Island's current leaders to preserve and protect Bali will make future generations face open conflict in the struggle for living space. This crisis of commitment between members of Bali's bureaucracy at the regency and city level has left a struggle to save Bali's land dominated by autonomous arrogance.

This portrait of the destruction of Bali's land is most evident when seen from the erosion of soils in the course of a single year. Data from the government's Rivers and Shoreline Department show that 90 kilometers of Bali's 436 kilometer of shoreline is badly damaged. Efforts to restore these damaged shores have only touched some 45.75 kilometers.

Bali Map from Nasa

[Click to Enlarge]


These efforts at shoreline restoration have consumed trillions of rupiahs in costs. Yet those areas that have suffered the worst damage are likely to sustain even more destruction due to nature's unrelenting course. 41 areas of intense erosion have been identified; with the worst destruction occurring in Bali's north but with Bali's south also badly affected. Of the 41 critical points of erosion, 21 are contained along the shoreline stretching from Gianyar to Nusa Dua. Meanwhile, 11 critical erosion points are located in North Bali with 9 more points to be found on Nusa Penida.

Government surveys show that this widespread erosion has actually shrunk Baliís land mass. According to the Chief of the Rivers and Shoreline Department, Ir. Nyoman Ray Yusha, worldwide land reclamation efforts have raised the world's oceans and encroached on Bali's shores. Erosion has become a serious problem for Bali and the commitment to protect Bali must re-invent itself to become a widely-based movement to save the Island.

A study to identify and mitigate natural disasters conducted by the Center for Environmental Studies (PPLH) at Udayana University has also concluded that Baliís land mass is under threat. According to R. Suyarto of PPLH, Bali has a geological potential to suffer significant landslides. This potential is concentrated in Baliís Center Ė Bedugul, Kintamani, the foothills of Gunung Agung and Seraya.

Moreover, if the uncontrolled deforestation of Bali's water absorption areas does not stop, experts warn that landslides and flooding will become an even more serious threat for Bali in the years to come.

Of some concern, oceanographic surveys of Baliís east coast show an underwater topography characterized by a fast descending trench to a depth pf 1,200 metes only 10 kilometers from the shore line. This depth creates a condition that could accelerate the damage and destruction brought by a future tsunami. Along Bali's north shore much of the coast is also characterized by equally threatening steep drop offs. This is in contrast to the Island's South, mainly in Sanur, Serangan and Nusa Dua which is the home to sand beaches behind substantial coral formations. Because of its exposure to the strong waves of the Indian Ocean, Bali's coastline remains very vulnerable to the destructive forces of nature.

In view of Bali's exposed situation, R. Suyarto, speaking at a seminar at Udayana University called for the establishment of a serious, widely-based movement to protect Bali's shoreline.