An Assessment of the Socio-Economic Implications of PADH due to Coastal Tourism, Mangrove Destruction, Mining/Sediment Movement, Ports and Land Reclamation and Damming of Rivers

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This report presents an assessment of the social and economic importance of three priority activities contributing to physical alteration and destruction of habitats (PADH) within the coastal and marine environments on the well-being of countries in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region. These activities include:

  • Coastal tourism - which includes issues related to land use planning such as urbanization, siting of hotels and eco-architecture, and location of tourist facilities;
  • Mangrove destruction – due to salt works, aquaculture and mangrove harvesting;
  • Mining/Sediment movement, ports and land reclamation and damming of rivers. 

It is one of the studies assigned by the Co-ordination Office of the Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the protection of the marine environment from land-based activities of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This follows the need to identify activities that will demonstrate how to address the problems of PADH that are associated with the above-mentioned priority activities.

PADH is an issue of both social and economic significance to the countries in the WIO region. This is because coastal ecosystems contribute significantly to the economies of countries in the WIO region by providing a range of livelihood opportunities for the people and revenue for national economies. Coastal resources provide employment opportunities, income, food security, construction material and medicinal products for coastal people. Economic activities such as coastal tourism, harbours and the mining industry are also dependent on environmentally sound uses of the coastal environment to be able to contribute to the much needed GDP for these countries. Hence the significance of the coastal resources to the region’s social and economic well-being cannot be over-stated.

Regrettably, physical alteration of the coastal environment and destruction of the habitats it sustains is undermining the continued prosperity of these activities. To a large extent most of these activities have been fuelled by national economic priorities that focus on those sectors that promote growth, such as tourism and port development. On the other hand, poverty and people’s means of sustenance encourage unsustainable uses of resources leading to uncontrolled mangrove harvesting or cutting for household needs, or clearing areas for activities such as salt production, agriculture and mariculture. The challenge has been to balance these demands with conservation of the coastal environment on which these activities greatly depend. An assessment of the priority activities leading to PADH raises several issues of social and economic importance that have negative implications on the well-being of countries in the region. These issues include the following:

  • Rapid population growth and infrastructural development due to factors such as natural increase, urbanization and national economic priorities continue to put pressure on the coastal physical environments leading to extensive degradation in some places that have destabilized residences and livelihood sources;
  • Coastal tourism that is increasingly becoming a significant contributor to national GDP is now extensively being exploited as governments as governments take advantage of its suitability to stimulate economic growth and creation of employment opportunities. Establishment of tourism infrastructure and facilities, however, have caused destruction of environments. In addition, coastal tourism has also caused


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