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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Economic aspects of sand mining / Kosrae

Posted By: Douglas Ramsay
Date: Sunday, 23 January 2000, at 12:32 p.m.

In Response To: A viable solution to beach sand mining? / Montserrat. (Gillian Cambers)

I am coastal engineer currently working for the Government of Kosrae, a small island in the Federated States of Micronesia, Northern Pacific. Many of the issues that we are dealing with are similar to those being tackled by the UNESCO COSALC Project, for example sand mining, development in high risk coastal zones etc. We are currently attempting to develop the capacity to produce sand aggregate from volcanic rock as part of our programme of developing sustainable construction aggregate sources, improving the quality of construction material used, and ultimately reducing the extent of the sand mining problems around the island. I am trying to track down information in two main areas:

1. Information on the potential for the addition of crushed glass and certain plastics to sand aggregate produced from crushed volcanic rock, and

2. Any information on how alternative aggregate sources have been introduced - case studies of the advantages/disadvantages of government or private sector development and economic incentives for introducing alternative sources.

Problems due to sand removal from beaches exacerbating coastal erosion on Kosrae are well acknowledged. The government and most major construction projects obtain sand from licensed permit sites onshore (which is a short term solution - limited source). Most sand and cobble removal from the beaches is due to local people within the subsistence economy, removing the material for house construction or landscaping purposes. This is generally conducted by hand, often just a few bags of sand at a time (when a bag of cement can be bought). However, with a rapidly increasing population and the current extent of erosion on Kosrae, these sand mining practices are still significantly exacerbating coastal erosion problems.

Over the past year an education campaign has been conducted to increase awareness of the problems that sand mining can cause. There is also considerable pressure to introduce a sand mining law. However, at this stage, such a measure is unlikely to tackle the real problem - that there is not a ready accessible, inexpensive, alternative to sand from the beach for subsistence communities. In addition enforcement of other environmental laws have traditionally been difficult to implement. The main issue is trying to find a way to encourage the main sand mining population to use aggregate from sources other than the beach (which basically boils down to an economic issue - it is free from the beach but costs $20 - $30 per cubic yard from all other sources).

For further information on the Kosrae Shoreline Management Project see the web site http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Jungle/3481/index.html.

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