Forests Buffer Hurricanes' Wrath


Photo credit: druclimb

Hooray for trees: Two fierce storms that recently slammed ashore on the Caribbean coast of Mexico and Central America have demonstrated how important forests and mangrove swamps are in dampening the effect of hurricanes—and by extension, reducing the number of lives lost.

"The trees secure the ground and offer a buffer from the storms," Rev. José Andrés Tamayo, a Roman Catholic priest and leading Honduran environmental advocate, tells The New York Times.

Environmental degradation such as illegal logging, however, is causing forested areas to shrink, particular in Central America, so that what would be considered a run-of-the-mill rainstorm elsewhere can cause deadly floods and mudslides here.

On Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, Ann Snook, of the Nature Conservancy, said she was in her house in Bacalar on Aug. 21 when Hurricane Dean rampaged through. The forests helped weaken it, she said, potentially saving lives. ::The New York Times

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