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Title: Environmental impact assessment for proposed farming development project in B. Aidhoo Island
Authors: Zuhair, Mohamed
Shakir, Ibrahim
Keywords: Farming development project
Legislative and regulatory considerations
Existing geophysical environment
Existing climatic environment
Existing terrestrial environment
Existing coastal environment
Existing marine environment
Existing socio-economic environment
Constructional impacts
Operational impacts
Socio-economic impacts
Mitigation measures
Environmental monitoring
Environmental impact assessments
Issue Date: Nov-2016
Citation: Zuhair, M. & Shakir, I. (2016). Environmental impact assessment for proposed farming development project in B. Aidhoo Island. Male': Maldives
Abstract: Mr. Mohamed Saeed of M. Snowflakes has proposed to develop a farming project on Aidhoo Island located in Baa Atoll. As part of the project, it is proposed to undertake different types of farming methods by using modern technology including setting up of a vertical farm, hydroponics farm, orchid farm and container farm. Separate plots will be developed for each farming method where lettuce, tomato, melon, chili, cucumber, bell pepper, etc are proposed to be produced. The project will be developed with all support facilities, services and infrastructure. This EIA is prepared as per the Terms of Reference (TOR) approved by Environment Protection Agency (EPA) on 19 October 2016. For such development projects, a mandatory EIA is required as per the EIA Regulations of 2012 before commencement of any activity relating to the project. The scope of this EIA is to assess the existing environmental condition of Aidhoo Island and surrounding environment, identify potential environmental impacts, propose environmental management and mitigation measures to minimize environmental impacts as well as propose an environmental monitoring plan with appropriate environmental parameters to monitor changes on a regular basis. Aidhoo Island is located at 5°11'13.73"N and 73°9'48.93"Eand is found on the eastern periphery of Baa Atoll rim in a single reef system. The island is found on the western parts of the reef in an elliptical shape similar to the reef and has an orientation from E-W. The closest inhabited island is Dhonfanu located at 4.2km west, the closest tourist resort is Kihaad Maldives located at 3km west and the closes uninhabited island is Hanifaru Island found within Hanifaru Marine Protected Area located at 1.5km SW of Aidhoo. The Domestic Airport in Dhravandhoo is found 4.5km south. The island is about 280m long from the longest point and 115m wide from the widest point and has an approximate area of 2.3ha. The island has healthy vegetation in the middle parts and young and pioneering vegetation all around it. A dynamic sand spit is found on the western tip of the island while surf breaks are found on the eastern side of the island. During the construction period, key environmental impacts are believed to occur from site clearing and construction waste disposal. During operation a number of significant environmental impacts have also been envisaged including solid waste disposal and inappropriate methods of wastewater disposal from the island will generate long-term impacts on the environment including effects on island environment, changes in reef community structure, damage to coral reefs and degraded seawater quality, etc The socio-economic impacts of the proposed development have been identified to be mostly positive. These include, opening of new employment opportunities, contribution to improving living standards of nearby communities through direct and indirect economic benefits, development of skills as well as contribution to the local economy from the above. In order to mitigate and reduce environmental impacts from the proposed project, key considerations have been given to minimize vegetation clearance on island for facilities and farming development, development of an appropriate waste management center with equipment and staff. An Environmental Monitoring Plan, which will be implemented during construction and operation phases of the development will be undertaken. An environmental monitoring report will be prepared twice a year, which will be submitted to relevant government authorities. Although there are a number of environmental impacts from the proposed development, most of these impacts can be reduced and mitigated by use of appropriate methodology. The effectiveness of these methodologies can be documented by implementing a comprehensive monitoring programme. Also, with positive social and economic outlook of the project and considering the overall contribution of the project to local and national economies, it is concluded that the project could be undertaken.
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