The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out regarding the proposed Airport Development Project in Fainu, Raa Atoll, revealed that the project would necessitate the removal of over 5.000 trees and cause significant damage to the environment.
According to the EIA, 5,792 trees will be uprooted for the project. As this constitutes 38 percent of the forest in Fainu, the deforestation will negatively impact the temperature and the water table of the entire island.
The EIA carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also highlighted that the area to be deforested includes eight of the 20 banyan trees on Fainu, which are over 20 metres in height. According to estimates, these trees will grow to 30 metres and remain for hundreds of years. An Alexandrian laurel tree measuring 29 metres is also within the area.
In addition to the large-scale deforestation, the Ministry of Tourism previously announced that four hectors of land would be reclaimed. Despite this, the EIA clarified that the reclaimed area would cover 8.4 hectors and have adverse impacts on the marine environment.
The EIA made several suggestions to mitigate the effects, acknowledging that the proposed airport would have a positive economic impact on the region which contains several luxury resorts.
The EIA suggested that the uprooted trees should be replanted in other islands, and to alter the shape of the area to be reclaimed.
EPA opened the EIA for public comment this Thursday.
The tourism ministry handed over the USD 8 million (MVR 123 million) project to Island Aviation Services (IAS) last May. IAS stated that they would finish the first phase of the project within a year.
The proposed airport will include a runway measuring 1,320 metres in length and 30 metres in length, a 45-meter apron, a hangar and a training facility. Other developments planned as part of the project include a city hotel, a medical centre and surgery recovery facilities.
The proposed airport will take up 20.8 hectors out of a total 59 hectors of land.