2. CRITICAL ISSUES RAISED AT THE WORKSHOP
Recognizing that the situation varies from country to
country, participants raised the following issues:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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,
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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:
Natural disaster management strategies, including exchange of information
on vulnerability and risk analysis and rapid damage assessments.
Exchange of technical information on the rehabilitation, establishment
and management of coastal forests (natural and planted).
Sharing of experiences and lessons learned related to restoration and
rehabilitation of coastal areas and integrated coastal zone management.
Practical application of the livelihoods approach and a means to
strengthen inter-sectoral collaboration.
- Governance issues, including coordination between national and local
level planning, approaches for strengthened stakeholder participation, and the
development of institutional frameworks and legislation to support integrated
coastal zone management and coastal forest rehabilitation.
- Scientific analyses of factors influencing the degree of protection
provided by coastal forests and guidelines for the establishment and management
of protection forests and shelterbelts in order to make them more effective.
- Assistance in organizing joint research activities and exchange of