The final day of our Annual International Conference in Cardiff has arrived. We’ve put together some of our highlights from the programme today.
Coastal sand: the natural resource so valuable, countries are trading it illegally
Sand is quickly becoming one of the world’s most desirable natural resources according to new research conducted by Professor Melissa Marschke and Banting Fellow Laura Schoenberger, University of Ottawa.
With China consuming more sand between 2011 and 2013 than America did in the whole of the 20th century, research into this accelerating trend has found that other countries are also importing large amounts of sand. This research identified Singapore and Malaysia as importing vast amounts of sand to use for land reclamation to bolster their powers in international waters with Cambodia providing colossal amounts to Singapore illegally.
Schoenberger said: “The volume of sand that has been leaving Cambodia over the last ten years is absolutely illegal; way beyond the government’s permitted limits. Small amounts of sand can be legally exported, but Singaporean import figures reveal that this Cambodian resource is clearly, and rapidly, disappearing. It appears that someone with high level connections in the Cambodian government is making a lot of money.”
The impact of extraction is widespread as sand pumping and dredging is taking place across the country. Local people, livelihoods and wildlife are threatened. Coastal erosion has increased, fish stocks are being diverted, and mangrove trees are toppling due to the sheer scale of extraction. It is unclear if the 2017 government ban on coastal sand mining is being enforced after the national elections that took place in Cambodia in late July.
Find out more.
Bike sharing schemes don’t deliver what they promised and mostly benefit healthy, wealthy, young white men
Dr Cyrille Médard de Chardon, from the University of Hull, is presenting research today that bike sharing schemes are not very effective at improving health, reducing CO₂ emissions or easing congestion, despite these reasons being widely promoted to encourage bike sharing scheme use.
Having analysed previous data on bike sharing schemes, Dr Médard de Chardon found that globally the schemes are mainly used by healthy, wealthy, young white men and that they are often found in the city centre and not further out of town. Therefore, bike share schemes often facilitate transport for the wealthier in society who live nearer the centre. Most bike share scheme bicycles also complete fewer than two trips per day, which prompts the question of whether the schemes are the best use of public funding for cycling.
Dr Médard de Chardon said: “In reality, bike sharing schemes are a false solution. They look sophisticated and are technologically cool, but they don’t create much useful or progressive change. It’s worrying that we are getting bike share schemes instead of concrete improvements to transport infrastructure.”
He recommends that cities look to practical and straightforward solutions instead of focusing solely on technology and innovation. These could include safer, connected and widespread cycle lanes, safe and secure bicycle parking, and showers in workplaces which would all contribute to a more positive cycling culture.
Find out more.
Cash-strapped councils over-exploit public parks by hiring them out for music festivals too often
London park space is being hired more than ever before by private corporations for music festivals, according to research to be presented today by Dr Andrew Smith, University of Westminster.
In contrast to festivals outside of London that are usually held on private land and therefore increase public access to private space, events in the capital are shrinking the amount of unrestricted access the public has to green space. Not only this, but the physical and environmental impacts are proving problematic.
Dr Smith said: “London parks are prestigious spaces that attract lucrative hire fees, but this inevitably has a knock-on effect for park use. Local people complain about noise and disruption but there’s also a wider ideological concern about privatisation.”
He proposes that councils reassess the number of festivals they permit and warns against relying on corporate rental money as a stable source of income as events could end at any time, or corporations could choose to move elsewhere, leading to funding black holes for local councils.
Find out more.