Saturday, 18 May 2013

How the landscape in Kiribati Changed overtime?


The purpose of this report is to investigate factors that are contributing to the changes of the landscape of the land in Kiribati.In doing this research, I choose south Tarawa which is the capital city of Kiribati to do my research on it. The landscape on south Tarawa is absolutely changed as there are many factors that happening on the island. Refer to the picture shown below for the map of Kiribati.

Map of Kiribati

 Hypothesis: Urban development is the main factors that contributing to the changes of the landscape on south Tarawa. 

1) Construction of Roads and buildings
Figure 1. Map of South Tarawa showing location of villages depicted under road upgrading work schedule and the benthic survey sites (sites 1 –Nanikai – Bairiki causeway, site 2 – Teaoraereke (adjacent to Fair Price HQ) , site 3 – Tangintebu, site 4 opposite road to MELAD).

Construction of roads changed the landscape of a land.

2) Construction of causeway
                                              Dai Nippon Causeway in Kiribati

3) Establishing of Seawalls 
                                      The establishment of seawall lead to coastal erosion

There are many factors that contributing to the changes of the landscape of a land. These factors may be natural or human activity. Natural factors are commonly known as natural disasters as they occurred naturally and  mostly found in volcanic islands. Some example of natural disasters are floods, typhoons, earthquakes, hurricanes, and even wildfires but these natural disasters are not found in Kiribati. In Kiribati, human activities is the main factor  that changed the landscape of the land. Human activities can sometimes link with natural events such as erosion. These human activity arise from urban development as people altered the landscape by constructing roads and buildings and the establishment of causeways and seawalls.

Firstly, the construction of roads is one of the things that actually changed the landscape in Kiribati. In South Tarawa which is the capital city of Kiribati, upgrading roads in villages is more priority to the government. Refer to figure 1 to see villages that upgrading their road. When I interview with one of the MELAD officer, and he stated that in those centuries, there is no flat road on every islands as it was only a rough and narrow path. The introduction of a wide and modern road actually change the landscape of the land as if there are high places or valleys on the land, this needed to flatten and make tem smooth so that transports can use it when travelling from villages to villages. A good example of a wide and modern road was just found in south Tarawa. Besides, the construction of new buildings also lead to a changing of the landscape of a land. In south Tarawa, there are many places being destroyed to provide spaces for the establishment of new buildings. For example, sport complex in Betio and Junior Secondary School in Betio. This where it cause a great destruction to the environment and a massive deforestation to plants in order to provide such available spaces for those particular new buildings.

Secondly, the construction of causeways  is also having an impact on the landscape of the land. In South Tarawa, there is a causeway that connected between Bairiki and Betio and this causeway absolutely affect the landscape of Bikeman. Bikeman is an islet  situated in the northeast of Betio and you can see its picture in Figure 2. In the 1970s there are many plants that can be seen growing on this little islet. When the Dai Nippon causeway established in the 1980s, the current of south Tarawa at that time was changed where Bikeman was started to erode. In the 1990s Bikeman was disappeared and it turned to a sandbank where it can be seen just in the low tide.  Refer to Fig.1 to see the picture of Bikeman.

Finally, the establishment of seawalls also affect the landscape of the land. The establishment of seawalls in South Tarawa is a new situation where it affect the coastal areas to be eroded. When referring to figure 7 which shows the coastal erosion in Nanikai, this is happened after the establishment of a seawall not far from that place. Generally, the construction of seawall actually link the changing of the wave current. Once the seawall established, the sea current is also changed. From this where the wave current naturally changed its function and as a result it can caused erosion to coastal areas at that particular place.

In conclusion,  it obvious that human activities is contributed to the changing of the landscape in Kiribati. This where people can modify the land in a way that they can flaten those rough places and also ruined the life of natural vegetation when cutting down plants and trees in an excessive amount. Building causeways and seawalls can absolutely cause erosion to many low islands as it changes the wave current. This can change the landscape of the land where the land can sometimes disappeared  just the same case with Bikeman islet. 


  1. If you want to know factors that changed the landscape in Kiribati then here are some of those factors.

  2. Urban Development is actually affect the landscape to change overtime. These development are the constructions of road and new buildings, construction of causeway, the constructions of seawalls and many others.