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Recognizing that the situation varies from country to country, participants raised the following issues:

  1. The protective role of mangroves and other coastal forests (natural and planted) against tsunamis, typhoons, and other natural disasters depends on various factors, including: the type and characteristics of the event itself; vegetation characteristics such as species, stand density, height and width of the vegetation zone; and the characteristics of the adjacent sea bottom. There is a need to further assess the effectiveness of mangroves and other coastal vegetation in protecting coastal areas from major natural disasters.
  2. There is a lack of clear, accurate and comprehensive information about the impact of the tsunami on coastal areas, including forests and trees. Where coastal vegetation was severely affected, more precise impact assessments are needed, which also consider the characteristics of the sea bottom close to the coastline.
  3. Although the tsunami caused significant damage to coastal vegetation in some countries, many organizations are planning to restore and rehabilitate coastal forests as a protective measure against future tsunamis, tidal surges, typhoons and cyclones. A rigorous analysis of the factors influencing the protective function of coastal forests is needed and guidelines developed to assist countries that plan to establish greenbelts and other forests for (mainly) protective purposes. 
  4. Rehabilitation/reforestation efforts must be carefully planned and implemented and the forests subsequently managed properly. Full stakeholder (from different levels and sectors) involvement is necessary in this process to ensure success. In particular, local communities need to be fully involved in the decision-making.
  5. Problems preventing cost-effective methods of rehabilitation of coastal forests include insufficient technical knowledge, limited human resources and capacities for implementing rehabilitation activities and ambiguous land tenure and clear demarcation of land.
  6. Initiatives aimed at the rehabilitation and management of coastal forests for protection purposes must be linked to the socio-cultural and economic needs and aspirations of local people. Protection forests also require management and many production forests, if properly managed, can also fulfill protection functions.
  7. There is a critical need for sound technical information on workable practices for rehabilitating coastal forests, suitable sites for planting, and proven approaches for involving local people in decision-making, planning and implementation. Similarly, policy makers and the donor community require solid advice to avoid quick fixes, with potentially negative consequences, to ensure that their decisions and assistance enhance sustainable development.
  8. Integrated coastal zone management is particularly challenging because of the tremendous diversity of livelihoods that depend on fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, forestry and agriculture. Long-term rehabilitation should focus on creating sustainable livelihoods and restoring the productive use of coastal resources. Integrated approaches to coastal zone management need to balance ecological, social, cultural, economic considerations and the importance of community participation and adequate governance. Inter-sectoral cooperation and coordination are needed, as well as appropriate policy formulation and strategic planning mechanisms to balance trade-offs among different, and often conflicting, interests.
  9. Detailed calculations of the wood needs for reconstructing infrastructure have yet to be carried out in most places. In some countries, wood demand may be met from domestic sources. However, there is a risk of over-exploitation of local forests (some of them protected areas) to meet the wood demand for reconstruction. In some cases, large quantities of wood will have to be imported. 
  10. Some donor countries are offering to export wood to affected countries. Care must be taken to ensure that wood used for reconstruction has the necessary characteristics to meet specific needs and is adequately treated to ensure durability. Some species may also not be acceptable for socio-cultural reasons. The potential of using salvage wood and alternative construction materials, such as bamboos, needs to be further explored.
  11. Conflicting demands for the use of the affected lands (green belts, aquaculture, agriculture, tourism, residential and industrial sites) are causing controversies and tensions in a number of locations, especially where land titles and tenure arrangements are ambiguous. In some cases, “land grabbing” has particularly affected poorer sections of society.
  12. Although several countries have passed zoning laws, prohibiting development of coastal areas within a certain distance of high-water marks and beachfronts, in general, law enforcement requires strengthening.
  13. The international community has helped countries with emergency relief and early response assistance, impact assessments, development of rehabilitation plans and wood needs assessments. NGOs have raised substantial funds to assist in tsunami rehabilitation efforts and are moving quickly with delivering assistance. There is a tremendous need and opportunity to improve the effectiveness of efforts through improved coordination and the provision of relevant information in a timely manner.

The following issues and topics could be addressed through regional collaboration:

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