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Economic boom wreaks environmental degradation …

Once synonymous with a brutal civil war, Sierra Leone was forecast to be one of the world’s fastest growing countries in 2012.

Report by BBC Online

On the back of the rapid economic growth, it is enjoying a construction boom, with new roads and buildings springing up in and around the major towns.

But the construction brings with it increasing demand for sand, an essential building material, and much of this sand is coming from the country’s beautiful beaches.

On Hamilton beach, the scale of the operation is staggering. Sand is mined there two days a week, during which up to 40 trucks can be working simultaneously, each with a team of diggers.

The coast, stripped of its natural protection, is now being eroded at a rate of up to 6m per year in places, according to Kolleh Bangura, director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

More than a decade after the long civil war ended, Sierra Leone is finally hoping to bring back the tourists who once flocked in their thousands to the spectacular beaches around Freetown, but sand mining is now seen as a serious threat to the country’s tourism potential.

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