Environment

Environment ministry declares three new protected areas

The environment ministry announced Monday the protection of three biodiversity hotspots in the Maldives.

The Rasdhoo-Madivaru area in the central Alif Alif atoll, which encompasses three sandbanks and four islands, is a popular dive-site notable for sightings of hammerhead sharks throughout the year.

The Farukolhu island in the northern Shaviyani atoll has seven different mangroves or wetlands. Dhigulabaadho, a U-shaped island in the southern Gaaf Dhaal atoll, has a natural breeding ground for rays and sharks as well as an extensive mangrove system.

Fishing, sand mining, removal of stones, collecting shells and littering are banned in protected areas. Bait fishing and shallow trolling outside of the core zones are allowed, as well as swimming, snorkelling, diving and picnics.

Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim, who announced the protected areas at a press briefing, has been under fire from environmental activists over large-scale dredging of lagoons or the reclamation of the Kulhudhuffushi mangrove.

“It’s important to celebrate small wins,” Aisha Niyaz, a sustainable development consultant, told the Maldives Independent.

She stressed the importance of management plans to monitor protection.

“Just declaring an area as protected isn’t enough. There needs to be a management plan and sufficient funds and resources allocated for the implementation of the protected area management plan. For example like in Hanifaru bay, there needs to be rangers who regularly patrol the protected area.”

The Environment Protection Agency needs to become independent and be allocated sufficient funds and resources to fulfil their mandate.” she added.

According to the environment ministry, the Rasdhoo Madivaru area is classified under category one as an “Internationally Recognized Area” and Category one as a “Habitat/Species Management Area.”

The geographic Rasdhoo atoll reef is also internationally recognized as an “Ecologically and Biologically Significant Marine Area” under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Farukolhu was designated as a “Protected Area with Sustainable Use.” The island’s coral reef and mangrove ecosystems provides breeding sites and nesting grounds for many endangered species.

Dhigulaabaadhoo was also categorised as protected with sustainable use. The ministry called the island’s large wetland area “nationally significant, playing an important role in the livelihoods of the neighbouring island communities.”

Two of the protected islands were previously been leased to build airports.

In 2014, the government scrapped plans to build an airport in Farukolhu after the EPA raised alarms based on the environmental impact assessment.

In 2016, plans to develop an airport in Dhigulaabaadhoo were halted after an outcry from environmentalists. An airport is now being built after destroying five islands near neighbouring the Faresmaathoda despite an EIA report warning of flood risks.

Rasdhoo Madivaru

Rasdhoo Madivaru is now protected under Environment Protection and Preservation Act (Law No: 4/93) of Maldives. Being one of the environmentally significant areas of our coral island nation, this is a biodiversity hotspot. With the appearance of Hammerhead Sharks throughout the year, it is one of the acclaimed dive sites nationally as well as globally. Adhering to the Protected Areas Regulation (2018/R-78) of the Maldives, Rasdhoo Madivaru is classified under Category 1, “Internationally Recognized Area” and Category 6, “Habitat/ Species Management Area”. Rasdhoo Atoll reef comprising of the Madivaru Area is also internationally recognized as an “Ecologically and Biologically Significant Marine Area (EBSA)” under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. #Environment #MEEVideo Credits: Amanda Batlle MoreraRasdhoo DiversMusic: Akoviani- Aerial

Posted by Ministry of Environment and Energy, Maldives on Monday, 8 October 2018

GDH. Dhigulaabadhoo

GDH. DhigulaabadhooThe beauty as well as the unique U shape of the island with the outstanding biological diversity makes this island one of the ecologically significant areas of Maldives. Not only is the island’s bay area a breeding and a nursery site for different species of sharks, rays and other marine species, but the large mangrove wetland area is nationally significant, playing an important role in the livelihoods of the neighbouring island communities. We are happy to announce the protection of G.Dh Dhigulaabadhoo as a “Protected Area with Sustainable Use” under Environment Protection and Preservation Act (Law No: 4/93) of the Maldives.Video Credit: Ahmed Shaan

Posted by Ministry of Environment and Energy, Maldives on Monday, 8 October 2018

SH. Farukolhu

SH. FarukolhuWith 7 wetlands, this small island in the upper North of Maldives has remarkable biological diversity. While 02 mangrove species are found, the array of avifauna, the marvellous diversity of coral reef and mangrove ecosystems provides breeding sites and nesting grounds for many endangered species. SH. Farukolhu is now protected under Environment Protection and Preservation Act (Law No: 4/93) of the Maldives, categorized as a “Protected Area with Sustainable Use”. #Environment #MEEPhoto Credit: Ahmed Shaan

Posted by Ministry of Environment and Energy, Maldives on Monday, 8 October 2018

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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