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Title: Environmental impact assessment for the proposed agriculture project on Dhandhoo, Baa. Atoll Maldives
Authors: Shareef, Mohamed
Issue Date: 1-Mar-2013
Citation: Shareef, M. (2013). Environmental impact assessment for the proposed agriculture project on Dhandhoo, Baa. Atoll
Abstract: 1. Baa Atoll Hanifaru was leased in 2008 to Mr. Mohamed Shareef of Maafannu Sunny Coast to develop agricultural activities. Following Environmental Regulation, an EIA Screening Form was submitted to EPA during early 2009. However, after elapse of some considerable period, the erstwhile Ministry of Housing and Environment declared Hanifaru Bay (lagoon) as a protected site under environmental law. Later Hanifaru was also declared as a protected site. In order compensate for this unexpected ‘taking away’ of Hanifaru, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, in consultation with Mr. Mohamed Shareef, arranged an alternative island – Baa Dhandhoo. 2. The proposal under consideration is to develop Baa Atoll Dhandhoo as an agricultural island along with three other minor functions. The primary business model is based on production of high quality agricultural products. The island would also be a facility providing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services. To complement this function a small nursery of about 4,000 sq feet is proposed to grow indigenous medicinal plants that are becoming rare/extinct. Finally a small visitor centre is proposed which would allow visitors to learn about the activities on the island. 3. Two main approaches − the AutoPot and hydroponics systems − are proposed for the production of rock-melon, cucumber, capsicum, chillies, lettuce, tomatoes etc. The growth system is completely contained either in the grow pots or in water medium. The main development feature of the island is 6 x 4,000 sq feet green houses to set up the AutoPot and hydroponics system. The green houses will be imported and assembled at site. Similarly the AutoPot system will be imported and assembled at site. The hydroponics system will be constructed locally from the imported material. 4. Construction of the buildings will be kept to a minimum; staff accommodation, kitchen / dining facilities will be constructed to accommodate no more than 15 people for the agricultural works. Treatment rooms for CAM treatments will be built on the northern side of the island. A small stilt-jetty is constructed on the western side of the island. A complete list of the buildings is given in the layout plan. 5. The island would be self-contained, and so water production and power generation will take place on the island. An RO plant of 10 cubic meters / day capacity is proposed with intake from the lagoon. To supplement the water production rainwater will be harvested from every possible roof on the island. A 25kW diesel power generator will installed for producing electricity. Storage of diesel on the island will be minimal transporting the required amounts from the nearby islands. 6. The baseline environmental conditions were assessed using standard methods. Significant erosion was observed on the north-western and northern side of the island while accretion was evident on the western side. There appears to be a directional shift of the island to west. However, observation of such magnitude of movement has entirely due to seasonal erosion and accretions have been observed in some islands of Baa Atoll. No interventions for mitigating erosion were proposed at this stage. Biannual monitoring of shoreline was proposed to determine the seasonal dynamics of the island beach. No hard structures are proposed at this stage. 7. A Leopold Matrix was used to determine the scale and extent of the impacts. The short-term environmental impact from this development project would to the island ecosystem from clearance of vegetation. About 60-80 palms may have to remove and/or relocated for the development work that will be replaced accordingly. Loss of top-soil, and shade and the clearance may affect the vegetation around the periphery. It is recommended that clearance take place only where necessary. Septic tanks systems have been proposed for disposing human waste and pose no long-term negative environmental impact considering the small number of people expected to be based on the island. It is recommended that non-biodegradables should be regularly removed from the island for disposal in to another island with arrangement made with the Council. Biodegradable waste from the plant material will be left to appropriately degrade on the island, thereby contributing nutrients pool of the island ecosystem. 8. The Atoll Council and the resorts were consulted regarding the project and their views were considered. There was full support of the Council and no issues were highlighted. There were also no issues raised from the resorts except they wished see only minimal landscape 9. Impacts during the operation phase are considered to be negligible. Overall the impact from the Project will be positive – demonstration of effective economic and sustainable use of uninhabited small islands inducing encouragement for climatesmart type agriculture
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