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Floating 'green' golf course for Maldives

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Male, Maldives (UPI) May 18, 2011
A floating golf course is planned for the Maldives.

The "scarless development," the developers say, will have a zero carbon footprint on the ecosystem of the climate change-vulnerable archipelago nation.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that rising sea levels of up to nearly 2 feet would swamp many of the Maldives' 1,192 low-lying islands.

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, a staunch activist for climate change, presided over the world's first underwater Cabinet meeting in 2010 to call attention to the issue.

"We told the president of the Maldives we can transform you from climate refugees to climate innovators," said Paul van de Camp, chief executive officer of floating architecture specialists Dutch Docklands, developer of the project, CNN reports.

"And we have a way of building and sustaining this project that is environmentally friendly, too. This is going to be an exclusively green development in a marine-protected area."

The $500 million project will offer a course with 27 holes situated on three interlinked islands. The development also includes villas and a conservation center.

To avoid environmental risks, the islands will be built elsewhere, most likely in the Middle East or India.

"That way there's no environmental cost to the Maldives," said project designer Koen Olthuis. The islands will then be floated into position, with grass seed sown and trees planted afterward.

"Climate change is upon us and the Maldives are feeling it most, said Mark Spalding, senior marine scientist at the Nature Conservancy, warning that there are pollution risks with the floating golf course.

Golf courses require pesticides and there's a danger the chemicals could end up in the ocean. There's also the issue of desalinating the water to irrigate the course.

"That has to be done cleanly, too," Spalding said.

Dutch Docklands plans to address those concerns by capturing pesticide runoffs in concrete troughs, for recycling in the facility's man-made lakes. That same water will then be used for irrigation.

The facility is planned to be powered by solar energy, in line with Nasheed's pledge that the Maldives would go carbon neutral by 2020 by switching to 100 percent renewable energy.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert Blake, in a visit to Maldives earlier this month, praised Nasheed saying he had "become one of the world's leading climate change advocates, with a flair for drawing attention to the critical impact climate change is having on island nations."

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