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Shallow Depths of Environmental Neglect

Experts Blame Bad Soil Management on Steep Hillsides for Causing Landslides that are Reducing the Size and Depth of Baliís Mountain Lakes

(4/15/2012) The increasing shallowness of Bali’s Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan, located in the island’s mountain-lake district, is blamed on the destruction of surrounding jungle and plantation agriculture that are being converted to commercial uses and the planting of seasonal crops.

Bali Post reports that hillsides once covered with coffee and other trees are being turned to flowers, vegetables and strawberry crops. The change in land use have resulted in soil conditions prone to landslides that evetually deposit loose soils into the nearby lakes.

Data collected by the Forestry and Plantation Service (Dishutbun) of the Buleleng regency and presented to the press on April 10, 2012, said that hillside lands are being changed to seasonal uses such as vegetable and strawberry crops over the past few years in combination with the building of hillside villas.

Nearby, on the shores of Lake Tamblingan, the villages of Asah Munduk and Asah Gobleg have seen similar changes in the use of local lands. Soils on steep hillsides inclined at more than 50 degrees that were once covered by trees are now bare and exposed to the elements. Seasonal crops are being planted in areas once covered by trees. What’s more, some local residents are allowing their hillside property be excavated for rocks to be used in the construction of local villas.

Forestry official, Tatang Priatna, said on Tuesday, April 10, 2012, said that land at an inclination of more than 50 degrees should not be cultivated. Cultivation makes such landscapes unstable and leads to landslides. The shifting soils, in turn, add to sedimentation of local lakes, reducing the natural depth.

Tatang said the government is unable to control the cultivation of these inclined hillsides. There is no legal basis to forbid owners of the land from doing what they like with their own property. Added to this are economic pressures on local populations who convert lands once used for coffee timber strands to the more lucrative annual crops, such as flowers or oranges.