|Abstract: ||1. Kooddoo Island is located on the eastern boarder of Huvadhoo Atoll, Ga. Atoll, just
south of Villingili. The island has a fresh tuna collection, freezing and storage facility
owned by the state-owned enterprise – Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Ltd
(MIFCO). MIFCO was re-structured early 2011 and the Kooddoo operation was made
a separate business entity under the name of Kooddoo Fisheries Maldives Private Ltd.
2. Plans for development of a domestic airport in Gaafu Alifu (GA) Atoll have been a
government priority for some time. The initial plan was to have the airport on GA
Villingili. A large area of the Villingili on the north eastern side was reclaimed in
2005 to provide land for housing and infrastructure developments. However, the size
and shape of the reclaimed area was found to be not sufficient or appropriate for the
1200 x 30 m long aerodrome required for the domestic flights. Additional land has to
be reclaimed if the airport is to be constructed on Villingili as planned, costing
additional financial resources to be allocated.
3. Two uninhabited islands in region are being developed as tourist resorts and one of
them - Falhumaafushi Resort - is now close to completion. Falhumaafushi Resort is
expected to be officially open in early 2012. The construction of the second island
Dhigurah is expected to the start very soon. These islands were tendered and
developed in the hope the domestic airport on Villingili will be operational by the
time of their opening. The need for a domestic airport for guest transfer is now
essential to make the resorts economically viable as originally expected.
4. In order to fast tract the development of the domestic airport, the National Planning
Council (NPC) in consultation with the major stakeholders in the region (i.e., Atoll
and Island Councils, Members of Parliament and the Regional Administrative
Offices) decided that a best possible and practical option is to have the airport on
5. The developer of the airport is Bonvavista (Maldives) Private Limited, a property
developer and resort owner based in Singapore. The agreement has been that the
developer gets the GA. Dhigurah Island (not far from Kooddoo) for long term lease
including some concession in rent for some initial period in return for the investment
costs of domestic airport on Kooddoo Island. The contractor for the project is Keong
Hong Construction Private Limited of Singapore.
6. At the scoping meeting the developer requested that EIA be submitted in two parts;
the first one focusing only on the initial deployment of machinery, labourers and the
clearance of the area required for the development. It was agreed that the second and
complete EIA be submitted within the validity of the ToR (see Annex 1) and before
the construction work begins. This first report therefore focused only on the initial
mobilization and clearance of vegetation. The report is approved and the Decision
Note issued (see Annex 2).
7. The surveys required for the EIA has been undertaken on 4-10 September 2011. Two
separate trees surveys were done; one by total enumeration on randomly selected 4 x
100 x 100 m plots and the other by image analysis using a high resolution satellite
imagery combined with ground truthed data undertaken as a separated survey at the
8. The satellite image was classified to nine categories; “agricultural crops”, “bush
vegetation”, “coastal bush vegetation”, “coconut grove”, “developed area”, “mixed
woody vegetation”, “modified woody vegetation” and “open area and strand
vegetation”. Highest cover was found to be in Mixed Vegetation type which through
ground truth surveys were found to be Midhili, Uni and Kandhu1 and some few palm
trees. For each category a range of number of trees were provide. Image analysis
estimated that number of coconut trees would be in the range of 3,600 – 5,800.
9. The enumerated survey assumed that density and distribution of trees are same across
the entire island. Furthermore it also assumes the random quadtrats (4 in nos.) are also
representative of the floral composition of the island and their location does not create
additional biases. While sound in theory in practice it may not be. The result of this
simple averaging method was found to be quite different from results of the image
analysis. While also acknowledging biases in the image analysis the true numbers of
major trees type would probably in the range the values estimated.
10. All mature trees and coconut palms will be uprooted under the guidance and
supervision to ensure that trees are in good condition for transport and replanting. The
developer has identified five main potential islands; Villingili, Falhumaafushi,
Vilivaru, and the newly reclaimed island of Gulhifalhu, where trees will be
transported. Separate arrangement will be made by the contractor to ensure the safe
transport and re-planting of tree in those islands. Experience elsewhere shows that
replanted trees survive well provided that watering and enough care is given in the
initial stages, particularly in uprooting and transporting. A target survival rate has
been estimated at 70% and means to ensure this would be monitoring and reporting.
11. Surveys and assessment show the deployment of heavy equipment and machinery will
be problematic. It was found to be almost impossible to use lifting equipment to
unload the heavy machinery from barges over the quay wall. Following procedures
practiced in similar projects in the Maldives, it was suggested to create a temporary
landing site north of the island. An entrance to the reef already exists there but the
area requires scrapping ~0.3 - 0.4 m off the substrate close to the beach area to allow
flat-topped barges to move close to the beach.
12. Land and soil survey of Kooddoo showed presence of loose humus soil up to the
water table at 1.4 - 1.5 m. This result was the same in locations surveyed. Laying out
the air-field require two compacted aggregate base layers before the porous asphalt
layer can be laid on top. These are 0.35 m thick compacted base-layer and 0.15m
thick crushed aggregate course on top of the base-layer. These two layers require
about 20,000m3 aggregate materials which will be sourced from local house reef.
Exploring of alternatives suggests the most practical and cost-effective way to obtain
the material is by dredging the house-reef. An area of about 300m x 70m x 1m on the
eastern side of the reef flat will be dredged to source the required material. In all
earlier airport construction projects the base layer material has been sourced from the
13. Overall the significant negative environmental impacts of the development project
were found to be three; i) sourcing fill material from local reef, ii) clearance over 40%
of Kooddoo area off vegetation and iii) creation of a temporary landing site for
unloading/loading of construction equipment. Dredging reef flat may have immediate
to medium term impacts that could potentially cause unintended erosion / accretion of
the island. But shore-stabilization structures are not proposed at this stage. It was
noted that significant areas of north eastern reef of Villingili was also dredged which
may have potential long term impacts to the region including Kooddoo reef flat. Post-
development monitoring will help to better understand the impacts to Kooddoo and
provide reasonable time frame to address any remedial or mitigation measure that wil
have to be implemented in a timely manner.
14. Vegetation clearance will have direct loss of habitats and potential agricultural land.
Both are important in the context of the green and carbon neutral concept. However,
in the long term, the construction and operation of the airport outweighs any potential
of loss of ecological habitat and agricultural land. In summary significant negative
impacts include loss of top soil, potential degradation of ground water quality, loss of
significant area of vegetation and potential death of the significant number of trees
and likely shift of ecological regime of the island in the medium to long term. Positive
impacts include opportunities for economic growth and development of the region,
the local aviation industry and further increase of tourism potential in GA and
15. Alternatives have been proposed for project activities only. The decision to have the
airport on Kooddoo is an executive high level government decision which may
supersedes findings of the assessment on suitability of the site. Areas of potential
impacts have been clearly identified and ways of mitigation have been suggested. The
developer and contractor are fully aware of these issues and are committed to be
responsible for implementing these measures during the construction of the airport
and its facilities.
16. The operational arrangement of airport is not yet clear. It is envisaged that some of the
services of Kooddoo Fisheries Maldives Pvt Ltd will be used for the management and
day-to-day running of the airport. In this case separate arrangements will have to be
made by the airport operator and the Kooddoo Fisheries Maldives.
17. Additional land surveys for levelling the air field and specification of the construction
are being sought by professionals in the field.