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Title: Environmental impact assessment for the proposed shore / coastal protection at Gahdhoo Island, Gahdhoo Atoll, Maldives
Authors: Water Solutions
Keywords: Shore protection project
Existing marine environment
Existing coastal environment
Existing socio-economic environment
Existing coral reef environment
Environmental impacts
Mitigation measures
Environmental management and monitoring plan
Environmental impact assessments
Issue Date: Sep-2016
Citation: Water solutions. (2016). Environmental impact assessment for the proposed shore / coastal protection at Gahdhoo Island, Gahdhoo Atoll, Maldives. Male': Maldives
Abstract: This report discusses the findings of a social and environmental impact study undertaken by Water Solutions Pvt. Ltd. upon request from Ministry of Environment and Energy. The project involves shore or coastal protection works in Gahdhoo Island, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. The project aims to:  Protect critical areas of the shore from erosion, by constructing a revetment around these areas and back filling.  Sustainably manage and overcome chronic erosion undergoing in the island. One of the biggest development challenges facing Gahdhoo today is the lack of proper shore protection and management measures. Due to the limited availability of land, reclamation was undertaken in 2008 and the total land area of Gahdhoo has been increased significantly. During this process, a nearby uninhabited island was joined and is now part of Gahdhoo Island. Although reclamation was completed, no coastal protection has been undertaken since then. As a result, erosion has occurred and will continue to threaten the land from several key areas. Most critical areas have been identified as the southern tip of the island where more than 20 meters of land has been lost over the years. This is partly attributed to the strong waves breaking on the shore from the south and south-east. As reclamation costs lot of financial burden to the national budget, it is important to ensure that the investments made are recovered or protected. Managing and controlling erosion in the newly reclaimed land is a significant environmental issue that needs to be dealt with. The success of this project will not only help the local environmental, but also safeguard the investment that is going to be a vital factor for the future growth of the local economy. Risk of erosion is an important factor that determines the future of development of islands. Projects ranging from housing to more industrial in nature requires adequate safety and guarantee for investors. These investments can be safeguarded with adequate shore protection which will ensure that sustainable land management can be undertaken by local authorities. Environmental impacts of this project was assessed and most of the environmental impacts of the project have been identified as minor. However, some of the components such as dredging will be undertaken in this project to obtain back fill material and is considered to be significant and negative in nature. The project proposes to construct a rock revetment along the critical areas of the shore using excavators. The revetment will be constructed in an area that has been highly modified and damaged by the previous reclamation project and as such, does not foresee any significant environmental impact. Nevertheless the dredging component will have far more negative impacts. Mitigation measures for the project have been identified mostly as processes and methods to ensure that the coastal protection will be sustained in the long term. They include the use of geotextile under layer, proper slope maintenance and the use of appropriate sized rock boulders. In addition, maintaining the right height have been identified as mitigation measures. In addition, completing the works in the shortest time frame is also an important mitigation factor that will help improve the overall project. Mitigation measures for the dredging component include setting of a minimum 50 meter buffer from the shore; limiting the total dredging duration as well as some kind of sand bunds around the dredging area to control and limit sedimentation of the lagoon. The project is mainly driven by the socio- economic gain for the development of Gahdhoo island. Stakeholder consultations were held with various groups, including the island council and the client in order to incorporate the socio-economic components in the project. Stakeholders, most importantly the island community represented by the Island council was the most significant as they have the maximum knowledge and experience from the daily difficulties faced and issues of the island. On a daily basis, the council receives request / complains from the general public on various issues and these have been incorporated in the report. Apart from these, key inputs from the contractor, the client and community representatives were taken in the design of the project. This project anticipates some negative environmental impacts. However, there are always ways to improve things through monitoring and careful supervision as well as following good construction guidelines and practices. The coastal protection of Gahdhoo’s shore does foresee some negative environmental impacts, but are manageable and can be mitigated. The project will have far too many positive impacts.
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