Forestry programme for early rehabilitation in Asian tsunami affected countries

Forestry after the tsunami

The tsunami of December 2004 took over 200,000 lives and destroyed livelihoods and infrastructure all around the Indian Ocean.

Emergency measures were taken immediately to meet the essential needs of affected communities. Later, relief operations included efforts to rehabilitate natural resources including trees and forests, and to facilitate timber supply for reconstruction.

Among other tsunami damage, trees were snapped, uprooted and undermined by the waves and strong currents associated with the tsunami, and houses and fishing boats were destroyed. In addition to the physical damage, trees, particularly planted trees, were affected by soil salination.

Reports that intact coastal forests (including mangroves) had provided protection against the tsunami prompted some of the affected countries to call for the establishment of coastal ¿buffer zones¿ or greenbelts.

Much coastal forest had been cleared or degraded in the affected ar eas prior to the tsunami. Bringing forests and trees back into the landscape to increase coastal protection and provide forest products and environmental services will help achieve the goal of ¿building back better¿.

FAO is working to help achieve this vision. It is helping countries to incorporate forestry into their rehabilitation and reconstruction plans. It is encouraging an integrated approach, addressing intersectoral linkages between forestry, fisheries and agriculture. FAO is providing advice for technically sound forest planting and management, and is helping countries strengthen coordination among the various groups supporting rehabilitation.

FAO's regional tsunami forestry programme

The Finnish funded ¿Forestry programme for early rehabilitation in Asian tsunami affected countries¿ has projects in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives and is also providing support to Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.

The objectives of the regional Forestry Programme are:

  • to provide forest and tree-derived benefits and income to address the needs of affected populations;
  • to establish a sound foundation for long-term coastal forest rehabilitation and reforestation;
  • to improve Government capacity to ensure sustainable practices for supply of forest products and services.

In Indonesia, the project is supporting participatory planning and implementation of forestry activities in ten villages in Aceh Province. It is also assisting the government to address needs related to securing timber from sustainable sources for reconstruction (see right). FAO has been instrumental in facilitating improved coordination and cooperation among the main government agencies and groups concerned with forest rehabilitation and wood for reconstruction in Indonesia.

The project in The Maldives is supporting a wide range of activities on six islands, from rehabilitating home gardens and mangroves, planting windbreaks and shade trees, and developing an island tree nursery. FAO is also assisting government to develop a national forest strategy and strengthen its institutional capacity so as to provide a firmer foundation for forest management.

In Sri Lanka, the project is working through six district forest offices on the south and east coasts to assist villages rehabilitate home gardens and plant coastal shelterbelts. The project is also providing support for increased coordination at district and national levels for forestry-related rehabilitation efforts.

At the regional level, the project is working to strengthen institutional capacities for forest rehabilitation and reforestation, providing technical advice, encouraging information sharing and improving coordination.

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