Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

WELCOME ADDRESS
by
He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

Delivered at the

National Workshop on the In-depth Tsunami Damage Assessment of Mangrove and Other Coastal Forests in Thailand

4–5 July 2006
Bangkok, Thailand




Distinguished Experts,
Friends and Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Regional Office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, I am pleased to welcome all of you to this important “National Workshop on the In-depth Tsunami Damage Assessment of Mangrove and Other Coastal Forests in Thailand”. I would like to congratulate the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the study groups of Kasetsart University and Prince of Songkla University, experts of the Geo-informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), and the staff of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific for their contributions to and achievements under the OCHA/UNDP/FAO project: “In-depth technical assessment of mangroves and other coastal forests affected by the tsunami in Southern Thailand (THA/05/001//01/12)”, which was funded by the Tsunami Funds of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) of the United Nations, through the UNDP Office in Bangkok.

Since the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster on 26 December 2004, many government agencies, civil societies, and NGOs have worked earnestly and closely for the recovery of people's livelihoods, damaged infrastructures, and rehabilitation of coastal environments. Quick damage assessments were one of the basic activities carried out in parallel to the recovery work. This project was designed to conduct a series of in-depth damage assessment studies in the coastal forests from the ecological, economic and social points of view. Activities commenced in September 2005 and were completed at the end of June 2006. Today, you will hear the presentations of the major results by experts who have been engaged in the project activities.

Another objective of this project was to assist the Thai government to improve its natural resources management and planning work. The introduction of two units of geographic information systems, or GIS, at the provincial level supported this goal, along with a series of training programmes for the local government as well as NGO staff. The project also raised public awareness through the organization of workshops and the preparation of public awareness pamphlets on tsunamis and the protective functions of mangroves and other coastal forests.

During this workshop, you will also have the opportunity to learn about similar activities being carried out by other organizations, such as the OCHA/UNDP/UNEP project on damage assessment of the coastal ecosystem.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to express FAO's sincere appreciation to the project donor, our sister agencies OCHA and UNDP for their support and cooperation over the past ten months. I would also like to thank the officials and professional staff of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Kasetsart University, Prince of Songkla University, and GISTDA for their hard work and technical contributions to the project. I believe that their valuable outputs, presented at this workshop, will be highly useful to all stakeholders in the planning and decision-making process for medium- to long-term rehabilitation and sustainable livelihood development in tsunami-affected areas.

The immediate phase for assisting the tsunami victims is over and, as we move to the long-term rehabilitation phase for the betterment of local communities in the tsunami-affected coastal areas, it is obvious that we need to develop a proper policy and reconstruction framework from a perspective of sustainability. I wish you fruitful discussion on all of these subjects during the workshop, and I am confident that there will be meaningful outputs.

Thank you.