Golf Course Architecture - Issue 66, October 2021

49 seen a massive drop-off in sediment throughput in some very large rivers. There was a study produced for China that showed nine of its biggest rivers had experienced an 85 per cent drop- off in sediment. It’s like a canary in a coal mine. It’s telling us that we are taking so much material from the rivers that we need to keep an eye on them. Now, river sand extraction limits are becoming more common, and, for example in China, there is evidence that they are starting to work.” At present, it is not possible accurately to monitor global sand use. However, Pascal Peduzzi, director of UNEP’s Global Resource Information Database said it could be measured indirectly, because of the close correlation between the use of sand and cement. The UN estimates that 4.1 billion tonnes of cement is produced every year, driven primarily by China, which constitutes 58 per cent of today’s sand-fuelled construction boom. The global use of sand and gravels has been found to be ten times higher than that of cement. The global rate of sand use – which has tripled over the last two decades, largely as a result of surging urbanisation – far exceeds the natural rate at which sand is being replenished by the weathering of rocks by wind and water. The result of this huge exploitation of sand supplies is, inevitably, upward pressure on prices. “Sand and aggregate are very localised markets. Getting price data is therefore difficult,” says Dr Gallagher. “There is no global price for sand, but we know that a lot of the sand out there is underpriced, because it’s not taking environmental costs into account.” Golf is in an invidious position in respect of sand availability and price issues. Sand is, as we have already established, absolutely crucial to golf ’s continued existence, at least in the form “ Sand is absolutely crucial to golf ’s continued existence, at least in the form that we have known it for more than a century”