Sand mining poses threat to wetland and coastal habitats and biodiversity

Spike Millington, Chief Executive, EAAFP Secretariat

While we focus on the loss of coastal habitat for ever-expanding infrastructural demands, from new residential developments to large ports, there is another insidious aspect to this development, which is the apparently insatiable demand for sand and gravel to make the concrete for the buildings. The production of this sand and gravel, often far from the new ports and cities has a not-so-hidden cost – destruction and degradation of coastal, riverine and lacustrine ecosystems, and the changes in hydrological and coastal flow regimes that alter their ecological character and affect the species dependent on them. This article highlights the case of Poyang Lake [EAAF025], where extensive sand mining is lowering water levels, ironically leading to controversial calls for dams to then raise the water levels, threatening the wintering habitat of Siberian Cranes, Oriental Storks and Swan Geese that depend on the delicate ecological balance of the Poyang ecosystem for their survival. Much of the sand mined from Poyang Lake is destined for urban expansion in coastal Jiangsu, which currently supports some the most important remaining mudflats in China, especially important for the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

Spike Millington is Chief Executive of the Partnership for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, based in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

Read the article: (The Guardian)

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