Close to 8000 mangroves were removed during unauthorised development activities at Malolo Island by the Chinese developer Freesoul

Close to 8000 mangroves were removed during the digging of a channel in Malolo Island by Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) PTE Limited.

The statement was made by Environment Department director Sandeep Singh during the hearing of the Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) PTE Limited case at the High Court in Suva, Fiji Islands.

Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) PTE Limited is a Chinese developer.

Freesoul is convicted for undertaking unauthorised developments, between 08 June 2017, and 06 December 2018, at Malolo Island in Nadi for development activities without an approved Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Report.

Singh said the damage was significant to the environment and it was unauthorised.

Singh said mangroves played an important role in climate adaptation and mitigation as well carbon sequestration.

“Mangroves are also the first line of defence for coastal communities, stabilising shorelines by slowing erosion and provide natural barriers from increased storm surge, flooding, and hurricanes,” she said.

“The removal of mangroves caused a massive loss in biodiversity around the area.”

The court heard that the Department of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) gave approval to Freesoul Limited to access Malolo Island by sea.

Freesoul had paid a bond of $402,182.44 (US$192,167.74) to the department which was accepted for land-based activities only and not for the foreshore.

On 07 February 2021, the website Newsroom reported Freesoul had ignored two court orders to stop the destruction and is accused of running roughshod over Fijian environmental law, permits, the environment, and the island locals.

This story was written by Ashna Kumar, originally published at Fiji Sun on 29 March 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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