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Environmental Concerns: A Critical Look at the 2024-2025 Budget



Environmental Concerns: A Critical Look at the 2024-2025 Budget

In an exclusive interview to Le Mauricien, Vassen Kauppaymuthoo, a sustainability expert, assessed the environmental measures in Mauritius’ 2024-2025 budget, with a particular focus on the controversial revival of sand extraction from lagoons.

Environmental Concerns: A Critical Look at the 2024-2025 Budget

The oceanographer analyzed the ecological and economic implications of this decision, proposing nature-based solutions to protect the island from coastal erosion and climate change.

Is the Environment Given Due Priority in the Budget?

The 2024-2025 budget reflected the major concerns and worries facing Mauritius, a small island nation in development, which is struggling to balance economic growth with environmental protection and social welfare.

The recent events, including floods, building collapses, leptospirosis outbreaks, and dengue fever epidemics, all linked to climate change, have raised questions about our economic model and fragilized one of the pillars of our economy: tourism.

The Budget’s Response to Climate Change

The budget primarily addressed climate change through financial measures and policy proposals.

A new tax, dubbed the “Levy,” has been introduced to fund a Climate and Sustainability Fund with an initial allocation of Rs 3.2 billion. The fund will be co-governed by the private sector and government, with contributions from international donors.

Erosion and Coastal Restoration

The budget also highlighted the importance of coastal rehabilitation, which is critical given the island’s rapid sea-level rise of almost 5.8 mm per year.

The measures announced aim to restore 26 km of coastline, which is severely affected by erosion.

However, some experts argued that this approach is not comprehensive enough, as it did not address the root causes of pollution affecting the lagoons.

The Dangers of Sand Extraction from Lagoons

The extraction of sand from lagoons is a highly controversial issue. The expert warned that this practice is not only non-renewable but also destroying the capacity of these ecosystems to regenerate. This could have catastrophic consequences for the environment, accelerating the negative impacts of sea-level rise.

Why Sand Extraction from Lagoons is Not Sustainable

The sand extracted from lagoons is composed of coral fragments, calcium carbonate algae, foraminifera, mollusks, and echinoderms.

Removing sand from these areas increases erosion and destroying the ecosystem’s ability to regenerate. This could have devastating consequences for our environment.

Comparing Solutions: A Cautionary Tale

Some experts argued that sand extraction from lagoons is effective in replenishing beaches, citing examples from other countries like the Maldives.

However, Kauppaymuthoo cautioned that this approach is not applicable to Mauritius’ unique ecosystem.

Sustainable Solutions for Tourism

The expert recommended a nature-based approach to tourism development, focusing on protecting and developing marine herbaceous zones.

He suggested that removing artificial structures, promoting sustainable tourism activities, and harnessing natural energy sources are essential for a resilient tourism industry.

Mauritius’ climate change challenges are significant.

Source: Le Mauricien

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