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Natural Awakenings

Devastating Effects of Sand Extraction

Devastating Effects of Sand Extraction

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According to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the world's oceans are being stripped of sand at a massive rate, with more than 6 billion tons extracted annually. The global demand for sand has continually risen, fueled by expanding cities, construction for infrastructure and glass manufacturing.


The UNEP Marine Sand Watch program found that marine sand mining practices have led to widespread environmental damage, including beach erosion, degradation of coral reefs and wetland areas, and the loss of habitat for fish and other marine life. These fragile areas, which serve as nurseries and sanctuaries for many marine species, are being irreversibly compromised. The disruption and destruction of these ecosystems have catastrophic consequences for biodiversity, threatening the survival of various fish, plants and other marine organisms.


UNEP also raises concerns for the livelihoods and well-being of coastal communities worldwide. The rise in renewable energy technologies, such as offshore wind farms and deep-sea mining, could further exacerbate the marine sand extraction in fragile ecosystems. The report calls for the establishment of regulations and frameworks, improved accountability and more innovative, sustainable alternatives to sand extraction.

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