What if islands were erased from our maps?
It’s a pretty scary thought. But is a reality for a number low lying islands across the globe. While many debate the possible effects of climate change and sea-level rise, the residents living on low-lying Pacific atolls are frightened by the realities they see on a daily basis. Tides invade properties, forcing locals to raise their properties or risk losing more household items. This wasn’t a problem 25 years ago. If corrective action isn’t taken soon these beautiful atolls will become uninhabitable within decades.
Insight Journalist, Chris Bramwell recently highlighted the plight of inhabitants on Kiribati and Tuvalu from increasing sea-levels. She reported that both National and Labour politicians agree New Zealand should help the people of these countries with solutions that ‘think outside the box’ and suggest that NZ should perhaps prepare for climate change refugees.
Calibre is applying innovative thinking, developing solutions outside the box. Peter Ollivier, Senior Project Director, working with Dr Arthur Webb*, has recently completed a study for the proposed Temaiku Bight reclamation on South Tarawa, Kiribati to raise 327 ha of land by 2m above current ground levels. The reclamation will provide additional land for development, enhance island resilience and will improve water supplies by enlarging the freshwater lens. These changes will have a dramatic impact on the local communities.
Peter adds that his involvement with these projects, and the filling of the Tuvalu Borrow Pits in particular, has been hugely satisfying. “It was great to see whole communities out in the evenings playing volleyball or just hanging out on areas that were previously polluted lakes filled with rubbish. Filling the borrow pits achieved the direct benefits we set out to deliver of improved health and community well-being, and increased land areas, but the project actually delivered far more than was expected. It is now clear that it has provided an example to both the Tuvalu Government and the wider Pacific region of what can be done to mitigate the effects of sea-level rise.”
* Dr Arthur Webb was until recently the Deputy Director of the Ocean & Islands Programme within the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SOPAC Division) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).