Kulhudhuffushi Mangrove is the largest black mangrove forest in the Maldives. It hosts 8 species of true mangrove plants, 42 associated plant species and supports the entire ecosystem of the island.
As you may know mangroves play a key role in protection of coastal ecosystems. They protect coral reefs and reduce the damage from natural disasters such as Tsunamis and Cyclones. Mangroves are also extremely beneficial in reducing atmospheric carbon, which is crucial for protection against climate change.
We understand the extreme challenges the people of Kulhudhuffushi face in accessing Hanimaadhoo Airport (having to pay as much as MVR 1000 for the 20 minute ride). However, we believe this concern can be addressed by investing in a reliable, affordable, comfortable public ferry system. An airport is an extremely expensive investment with low returns. Given the employment data from other domestic airports, it will create maximum 40‐100 jobs. However, if money is invested in essential services in the island such as tertiary medical services and higher education, better job opportunities will be created. And the demand to fly to Malé for basic needs will also be reduced.
Maldives is extremely vulnerable to climate change. We receive millions of dollars each year for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. Just this year we received USD 23 million from the Green Climate Fund. It is hypocritical to actively destroy our most critical ecosystems while taking this money. As the chair of Alliance Of Small Island States (AOSIS) and our obligations under international environmental conventions, we must show leadership in taking action against climate change.
The Environmental Impact Assessment done for the project itself states that “the positive impacts might not outweigh the negative impacts associated with the project”. We ask you to therefore reconsider the development of the airport by reclaiming the mangrove of Kulhudhuffushi and causing irreversible damage to island ecosystem.
Posted: 26 October 2017 (Updated: 9 November 2017)