Magazine article New Internationalist

Sand Dredgers Defeated

Magazine article New Internationalist

Sand Dredgers Defeated

Article excerpt

Along Cambodia's southern coast in Koh Kong province, the mangrove forests throng with birds, insects and marine life. For hundreds of years people have made these mangroves their home, collecting crabs to sell and living on fresh seafood. But in 2008 industrial sand dredgers moved in. Vast quantities of sand were scooped up, piled on barges and exported, mainly to Singapore: to make concrete, becoming towering buildings and landfills, stretching the city-state further into the sky.

In 2015 a small band of 'Mother Nature' activists began to speak with the mangrove communities. They learned how sand dredging was undermining ecosystems and a way of life. Fishing catch had dropped by 70 to 90 per cent, families were suffering and the forests were collapsing into the sea.

Sun Mala, Try Sovikea and Sim Somnang led a campaign of direct action protests. They were soon arrested and thrown in jail. Ten months later, the activists were released and received a suspended sentence for threatening a sand dredging company, Direct Access. …

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