After the Tsunami, a Push for Green Reconstruction

As tsunami relief efforts across Asia continue to help needy people, plans for rebuilding the region are also beginning to take shape, and many environmental-minded groups are calling for careful planning for sensitive coastal regions.

"Healthy ecosystems can save lives," said Isabelle Louis, the World Wildlife Fund’s Asia-Pacific director. "Places that had healthy coral reefs and intact mangroves, which act as natural buffers, were less badly hit by the tsunami than those where the reefs had been damaged and mangroves ripped out and replaced by prawn farms and poorly planned beachfront hotels."

The MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, another enviro-helper, said that mangrove-restoration projects in the region, which have restored some 37,000 acres of the swampy groves along the coastline, saved hundreds of families in fishing villages from the tsunami's fury.

WWF emphasizes the role of natural buffers such as coral reefs, marshes, and forests in limiting the impact of the tsunamis. And once humanitarian needs are met, reconstruction, according to WWF, should involve environmentally-sustainable coastal planning, such as not building within a safety zone delimited by the high-tide mark.

Furthermore, along with the WWF, the Worldwide Fund for Nature is warning against indiscriminate over-logging of lumber to reconstruct the region. Though some trees will certainly be needed for emergency housing, forest resources should be managed sustainably, in order to avoid other natural disasters. Via Grist ::Planet Ark ::Terra Daily [by MO]