Addu City, Maldives – Save Maldives Campaign has started a petition to save the Addu Biosphere Reserve as it is currently in danger of damage following land reclamation projects for the purpose of developing tourism and housing.
On 9 June 2021, an announcement was made that USD 75 million will be spent for the reclamation of land in Addu Atoll, by dredging 6.7 million cubic meters of sand from the atoll basin to create 231 hectares of land which will effectively destroy nature, biodiversity and the natural defences and resilience of the atoll.
The petition stated that Addu Atoll was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2020 and therefore, achieved the status of an area of significant environmental importance and value, worthy of special protection.
In 2020, the Maldives also declared a Climate Emergency due to the impacts of global heating and climate change. The petition emphasized how Maldives is at the frontline of the climate crisis.
They noted that the project will dredge almost all available sand within the atoll basin created over thousands of years from living organisms. The sand is a valuable, finite natural resource that cannot be replaced. Recent research also shows that sand dredging increases the climate change vulnerability of islands.
The project also aims to create four artificial islands to build resorts for big businesses. This practice has destroyed many reef ecosystems and wildlife habitats in the Maldives in recent years. This is ecologically disastrous and makes the islands unsafe, because natural reefs, lagoons and ecosystems are the island’s natural defence systems. They are necessary for safety and security in the face of climate change.
Deputy Director General of EPA Ibrahim Mohamed said that such projects should not be depriving the future generations of the natural resources while putting a huge debt burden on them as environmental and economical loss.
The Save Maldives Campaign has called for as many people as possible to sign the petition and show their support against this project by signing the petition to the relevant authorities.