The International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME) had, back in 2001, called on the Maldivian government to declare Keylakunu island of Haa Dhaalu atoll as a 'Mangrove Wild Reserve'.
Amid its efforts to create awareness on the importance of the uninhabited island, RaajjeTV has obtained a copy of a letter sent by ISME's Executive Secretary Shigeyuki Baba, addressed to Maldives' then Director of Environmental Affairs, recommending that Keylakunu island is designated as a Wild Mangrove Reserve in the Maldives 'not only for our generation but also future generations'.
In the letter, Professor Shigeyuki noted that he, along with a team from ISME, had visited mangrove forests in Kumundhoo, Neykurendhoo and Keylakunu islands in Haa Dhaalu atolls and Baarah island in Haa Alifu.
Noting that Keylakunu island hosts 'one of the most beautiful mangrove forests' in the Maldives, ISME highlighted that Avicennia marina found there is a rare species throughout the world. The letter noted that 'some of the bigger trees of Avicennia marina [found in Keylakunu] are more than 50 cm in diameter at the breast height and more than 15 m in height'.
"I am sure that such a big beautiful mangrove forest dominated with Avicennia marina are not so many in the world nowadays," said ISME in the letter sent in 2001, adding that 'once destroy such a beautiful mangrove forest dominated with Aviccenia marina, you may never have it again'.
RaajjeTV launched a special campaign on Saturday, to create awareness on the importance of the island, out of fear that the government's plans to use the island 'for resort development' may cause irreversible damage to the island's ecosystem.
A number of people took to social media to show discontent towards the government's decision, calling on authorities 'to keep the island as it is'.
The now uninhabited island was previously leased to a private sector for agricultural development. Over 200 years ago, a tropical storm destroyed the island, forcing its residents to permanently move to nearby islands.