The removal of coconut palms from an uninhabited island in Vaavu atoll for the landscaping of a new resort is under investigation by the police.
The transport of trees on a barge from the Hulhidhoo island was spotted and reported to the police by the council of the nearby Thinadhoo island, local media reported Saturday.
The Thinadhoo island council suspects several mature coconut palms have been removed from uninhabited islands and replanted on the island of Aarah, which is under development as a resort. There were only about 20 coconut palms on Aarah previously but the island now has a thick forest of trees.
An officer stationed in Vaavu atoll told Mihaaru that police were awaiting a letter from the Environment Protection Agency to go to Aarah and ask questions over the tree removal.
The EPA has been under fire recently over what environmental activists are calling #MvTreeGrab, the transfer of trees from local islands for the landscaping of new resorts, many of which are being built on reclaimed land.
A permit must be obtained from the EPA before removing more than 10 trees and an assessment is required for more than 200 trees.