Vanishing Sands: Losing Beaches to Mining covers a wide range of topics that are related to various aspects of sand loss from dunes and beaches. The topics focus on anthropogenic activities such as sand mining and are not concerned with natural morphological events and sedimentary dynamics such as beach erosion. Included here are 10 chapters that give the tenor of this exposé: (1) “Who's Mining the Shore?”, (2) “Sand: Earth's Most Remarkable Mineral Resource”, (3) “Singapore Sand Bandits: Sitting on Asia's Sandpile”, (4) “The Sands of Crime: Mafia, Sand Robbers, and Law Benders”, (5) “Barbuda and Other Islands: Lessons from the Caribbean”, (7) “A Summoner's Thirteen Tales: South America's Coastal Sand Mining”, (8) “A Different Kind of Sand Mining: Legal but Destructive”, (9) “Africa Sands: Desert Abundance–Coastal Dearth”, and (10) “Beach Mining: Truths and Solutions”. References and citations are collected together at the end of the volume by chapter. Such is the scope of this multi-authored book that covers a wide range of geographical local situations and examples of this destructive human activity.

This is an important book for coastal researchers who are interested in the stability of sedimentary shores that include beaches and dunes. The vignettes that are presented here provide poignant examples of the wide range of human activities that are deployed to secure beach-dune sands illegally or in destructive ways. Adverse impacts of coastal (onshore) sand mining are aesthetically displeasing and morphologically deleterious to the stability of the shore. The various chapters make it clear to the reader that coastal sand mining is not an overall beneficial activity, in spite of the fact that certain, specific interests or isolated projects may benefit from illegal or ill-advised legal procurement. Although there are examples from many parts of the world, the overall message is that onshore sand mining is generally not a good idea because it eventually contributes to coastal erosion and other forms of environmental degradation.

Coastal sands are a valuable natural resource, and they are vigorously sought by all manner of conniving and stealth. Nevertheless, many educated coastal dwellers are becoming more aware of the pitfalls of this activity and now seek to curtail robbers of the ribbon of sand along the shore. Because beach-dune sands are a limited natural resource, beneficiation of mined-out areas is difficult to nearly impossible after the damage of mining has been completed. Some sand mining is so insidious that it is not noticed until after stealth hand mining has been completed. The environmental consequences of coastal sand mining thus accrue from a wide range of activities that range from large, mechanized operations to small-scale wheel barrel undertakings.

This book thus covers the gamut of coastal sand mining activities and as such it has general appeal to a wide audience of interested parties. Methods of sand mining are elucidated and often accompanied by informative photographs that illustrate methods and scales of operation. Because of its general nature and overall wide scope, this book is highly recommended as essential reading for coastal managers that are stewards of coastal environments where safekeeping and conservancy are of paramount importance.

Coastal dwellers and tourists alike will find this exposition to be of relevance in the protection of their properties and recreational sites. In a word, this book has wide appeal to diverse populations that have interest in coastal environments where there are beach and dune sands that need protection form robbers of their coastal sand heritage. As far as this book is concerned, perhaps the most that can be said is to buy it, read it, and learn how to protect this valuable coastal resource. This highly recommended book in itself serves as a sand resource by the mere fact of the useful information it contains. Casual readers are, however, warned that if they pick up this book and peruse it, as they might learn something.

©Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc. 2023