Illegal sand mining is a significant part of the $200 billion global environmental crime challenge, says Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning environmental compliance and enforcement director Dr Eshaam Palmer.Palmer highlighted that the environmental impacts of illegal sand mining could result in soil erosion, sinkhole formation and the loss of biodiversity, as well as the contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water.activities also cause destruction and disturbance of ecosystems and habitats and, in areas where there is a high water table, it might also disturb or destroy productive grazing and croplands and contaminate natural waterbodies. This vegetation helps to reduce erosion by holding soil in place, protects the water quality by filtering sediments and pollutants, and provides a habitat for wildlife and cover for fish along riverbanks and shorelines.are one of the few inland water sources and, owing to low rainfall volumes, increased pollution and consumption quickly outstripping supply, water security will be one of the major challenges the country will have to address over the next five to ten years. Further noted that, in urbanised environments, illegal sand mines produced noise and dust and resulted in visual pollution.He also highlighted that sand dunes formed an important buffer that served to counteract the effects of climate change, such as the rising level of oceans and the effects of major storms.As a result of illegal sand mining activities, sand dunes were being eroded, thereby placing lives and properties at risk.Illegal sand mining affects the viability and profitability of the legal sand mining sector, as illegal mines are often located on or near legal mines.
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