Soon, Jamal’s voice will no longer ring out over the mountain slopes he’s roamed for years with his herd in northern Cyprus. To feed the concrete demands of hotels, holiday homes and road-building, quarries are eating away at the mountains where his goats graze. “I will have to leave because I don’t have a future here,” said the 55-year-old herder and lover of poetry. From Cyprus to New Zealand, Lebanon and beyond, environmentalists worry about the proliferation of quarries in a world ever more greedy for concrete. Between 40 billion and 50 billion tonnes a year of sand and gravel are extracted around the world from mountains, rivers, coastlines and marine environments, the majority for construction, according to UN environment agency figures. Concrete consumption has tripled over the past 20 years and with the global population expected to grow by two billion by 2050, demand can only go up, the UN says. But the extraction process often comes with deforestation, air pollution and disruption of traditional human activities. Near the hut where Jamal makes traditional “hellim” cheese, trucks come to collect rock, kicking up clouds of dust and frightening the animals. On the quarried area of the mountain slope, vegetation has disappeared. A policeman asks the goat herder to stay back as an explosion triggers a huge cloud of smoke and part of the rock face collapses. ‘No other choice’ On another mountain, Jamal was injured and lost animals to quarrying work. Rocks “rained down on us,” he said. While he understands the “need for rock to build”, he hopes the company running the site will help him find quieter pastures. With some 355,000 inhabitants according to Turkish Cypriot planning officials, the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) walks the line between development and conservation. Established in the northern third of the Mediterranean island after Turkey’s 1974 invasion, the TRNC is not recognised internationally and is faced with export constraints. “Today, the island is fed by tourism so we need hotels, guest houses, roads and airports. We don’t have any other choice than to exploit the quarries,” Cenk Sarper, head of the Stone Quarries Union, told AFP. He said the quarries operate in areas far from residential zones “where there are no trees or animals”. More than 12,000 tonnes of rock are extracted every day in the TRNC, according to quarry operators — or around 33 kilograms (73 pounds) per capita. The world average is 18 kilograms, according to the UN. Around the world Asking to remain anonymous, a contractor said that key actors “did not do everything possible to limit visual pollution”. The gnawed mountain near Degirmenlik is a prime example.