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Title: Environmental impact assessment for the proposed development of an agricultural island on Linboakandhoo, Raa Atoll, Maldives
Authors: Sandcays
Keywords: Agricultural development projects
Legislative and regulatory considerations
Existing environment
Constructional impacts
Operational impacts
Mitigation measures
Environmental monitoring
Environmental impact assessments
Issue Date: Jan-2016
Citation: Sandcays. (2016). Environmental impact assessment for the proposed development of an agricultural island on Linboakandhoo, Raa Atoll, Maldives. Male': Maldives
Abstract: This report discusses the findings of a social and environmental impact study under the proposed development of agriculture on Linboakandhoo, Raa Atoll. The project is proposed by Linboakandhoo Investment Pvt. Ltd. The project targets at using Linboakandhoo for agriculture and produce some of the imported fresh food locally to reduce cost to consumers and also provide them with better quality goods. Among the proposed activities to be carried out on the island includes coconut oil production and free range chicken farming. There will be clearance of about 2ha of the land and construction of a jetty. Services related to the proposed project such as water, sewerage, energy and waste will also be established during the construction phase. At present, Linboakandhoo is an uninhabited island not used for any purpose. However, locals of the nearby communities use the island to collect coconuts, go on picnics and gather firewood. Small sizes of the islands and absence of adequate natural freshwater supplies along with the climatic factors make it hard for majority of food imported to the Maldives to be planted and harvested on a commercial scale. However, there are some species such as melons, egg plants, bananas and coconut palms which can be farmed and harvested economically. The produce can be sold to the growing tourism industry which imports majority of their agricultural products from other countries. Hence, to develop the agricultural industry of the Maldives and to potentially cater mainly for the market demand from tourism was amongst main goals of this project. Alternatives have been identified in the project document. These include alternative uses of the island such as for a tourist resort. However, upon closer analysis of these options, the proposed development of the island for agricultural purpose was found to be more viable based on the present circumstances under which the island has been leased. Therefore, the consultants propose exploring use of alternative renewable sources to the proposed fuel based energy generation. Environmental impacts were assessed for both the construction and operation phase of the project. Most of the environmental impacts of the project have been identified as minor negative with highly positive socio-economic impacts. The main negative impacts from the project include habitat loss from vegetation clearance, sedimentation and consequent impacts on marine wildlife health and waste generation during the operational phase. The mitigation measures outlined for these impacts include conserving mature trees to the greatest possible extent, relocating large live corals at the proposed jetty area and establishing dust control plans in addition to employing best-practice guidelines during the operational phase. The most positive socio-economic impacts related to the project are increase in job opportunities, reduction in prices of agricultural produce and increase of national revenue. It is inevitable that there would be some negative environmental impacts. However, most of the impacts of the proposed project are minor compared to the positive socio-economic benefits of the proposed system. Yet, monitoring to ensure the effectiveness of the proposed project would be necessary. Therefore, a monitoring component has been suggested which takes in to consideration, the most important elements that require regular checks. This monitoring component will be adhered to and will allow the assessment of changes due to construction and implementation of the proposed agriculture project. Monitoring is specifically focussed on employment opportunities, price changes in the market, direct and indirect economic ventures, ground and marine water quality, changes in the hydrodynamics of the project area as well as impacts on the reef or marine ecological area of importance. In conclusion, it appears justified from a technical and environmental point of view, to carry out the proposed project to develop Linboakandhoo as an agricultural island.
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