Bali's Kuta Beach faces 'grave' erosion

One of the most popular beaches on the resort island of Bali is facing massive erosion due to rising sea levels, unregulated development and other impacts of a changing climate. 

According to data from the Penida River Basin Agency’s water network, about 230 kilometres of the 633 kilometre coastline in Bali has been lost to erosion.  

Made Supatra Karang, 65, who was born and raised in the area, recalled seeing buildings and plantations about a 100 metres further from the sea than where they stand today.  

“What I feel is going on in Kuta right now is fatal,” said Karang. Since I was five years old, I have seen the change." 

One of the most affected coastlines in Bali is in the Kuta subdistrict, an area that covers Tuban, Kedongganan, Kuta, Legian and Seminyak – home to some of the beaches most frequented by tourists. 

Local government data shows that between 1981-2010, the Legian and Seminyak coastlines have seen somewhere between five and 15 metres of erosion.  

"If we talk about the condition of the beaches in Kuta, actually erosion has started in the 1970s and 1980s. We conducted a study in 2009, we captured it from the satellite imagery. It turns out that in several coastline segments in Kuta, the regression is quite significant,” said Made Denny Satya Wijaya, head of the Penida water network. 

Meanwhile, data obtained from the Digital Shoreline Analysis System, which computes the rate of shoreline change based on USGS data, shows erosion in the Kuta subdistrict for the nearly 50 years from 1972 to 2020 was occurring at an average rate of 46 centimeters per year.  

The government in Bali has worked on protecting 100 kilometres of the island’s coastline through sand landfill and by building limestone embankments to prevent further erosion.  

But spatial expert Rumawan Salain said those efforts are temporary solutions. He emphasized that unsustainable development on the island’s coastline was one of the main causes of erosion and urged the government to move fast to minimize further damage. 

This is a translated summary of a story that was first published on the BBC Indonesia on 17 October 2020. It was produced with the support of EJN media grantee, the Indonesian Data Journalism Network, following a data journalism hackathon earlier in 2020.

Banner image: Kuta Beach in Bali is a popular spot for tourists, but rampant development and climate change are leading to major erosion / Credit: Audrey AK via Flickr.

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