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High and Dry

Udayana University Study: Bali Faces Severe Water and Food Shortages.

(5/3/2010) The Jakarta Post reports that the bad stewardship of Bali's environment will result in a possible food and water shortage in the near future.

A joint study conducted by the Environmental Study Center of Bali's Udayana University and the provincial Bali Development and Planning Agency blames the threatening scenario on skyrocketing population; shrinking water supplies caused by pollution and over-exploitation; and the conversion of arable land to other uses.

I Wayan Arthana, the head of environmental studies at the University, said: "The authorities needs to carry out strict population control and ongoing campaigns to raise people's awareness of the current environmental issues to reduce the impact of the problem."

According to the study:

Bali requires 516,000 hectares of productive agricultural lands to feed its population of 3.3 million.

Bali has only 325,000 hectares of fertile land. When the needs of Bali's nearly two million visitors is factored into the equation, the island needs, in total, 521,000 hectares of fertile land.

Agricultural land is being transformed into residential and business uses at an alarming rate. This loss of arable land and is most pronounced in Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar, Jembrana and Buleleng.

One regency of Bali, Bangli, has the largest remaining reserves of arable land.

In addition to a dwindling ability to be self-sufficient in food supplies, Bali is also facing a increasingly critical shortage of water. The island has a sustainable supply of 4.7 cubic meters of water per year, hoverer, 5.4 million cubic meters is currently being used threatening the long-term supply of fresh water for Bali.

Bali is badly overpopulated. Quoting a report from the World Health Organization, the survey says the ideal carrying capacity of the island is only 1,00,400 1,600,000 compared against a current population count of 3,320,000.

Bali's administrator must stop converting productive land to other uses. The former head of Bali's Chapter of Friends of the Earth (WAHLI), Agung Wardana, is urging local officials in Bali to halt constructions projects, especially those related to tourism facilities.

WAHLI said the worst violations by tourist projects of existing zoning laws are occurring at the Dasong forest and Buyan Lake in Buleleng regency, Padang Bai and Kelating Beach in Tabanan.