Coastal protection workshop - In the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami: what role for forests and trees? 28-31 August 2006

FAO convened the technical workshop, the “Coastal protection in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami: what role for forests and trees?” in Khao Lak, Thailand from 28 through 31 August 2006. The objective of the workshop was to improve understanding of the role of coastal trees and forests in protecting populations and assets from natural hazards, including not only tsunamis but also cyclones, erosion, wind and salt spray.

The workshop was organized in response to the contrasting views that have arisen since the 2004 tsunami concerning the importance of trees and forests in coastal protection. Eyewitnesses reported that coastal forests and mangrove forests in particular had saved lives and, in some cases, whole villages from destruction. Subsequent analyses asserted that elevation and distance from the coast were more significant determinants of protection than the forest cover. A better understanding of the degree to which forests and trees provide protection from coastal hazards will provide an improved basis for formulation of coastal management plans and disaster mitigation strategies.

The workshop brought together the best available knowledge and experience to give a clear picture of the roles that forests and trees play in protection against tsunamis, cyclones, erosion, wind and salt spray. The workshop placed this information in the wider context of coastal planning and social, economic and environmental considerations. It also assessed the value of trees and forests compared to other commonly used soft and hard (engineered) structures for coastal protection.

Major findings

1. Forests and trees can act as bioshields that protect people and other assets against tsunamis and other coastal hazards, but whether they are effective and the degree of their effectiveness depend on many variables;

2. Care must be taken to avoid making generalizations and creating a false sense of security that bioshields will protect against all hazards;

3. The use of bioshields should be considered within the framework of disaster management strategies, which also include effective early warning systems and evacuation plans.

Workshop documentation 

General

Concept note

Agenda

Papers and presentations

Please note that the power point presentations have been converted into handouts (PDF), in order to reduce the size of the file and facilitate the download of the information.

Protection from tsunamis

Thematic paper: The role of coastal forests and trees in protecting against tsunamis. Dr. Hamzah Latief. Department of Oceanography, Faculty of Geosciences and Mineral Technology, Institute of Technology, Bandung, Indonesia Presentation (size: 805 Kb) ,Abstract 

Field study presentation: The coastal vegetation role in protecting the Thailand coast against the 26 December 2004 tsunami. Ms. Absornsuda Siripong. Marine Science Department, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand Presentation (size: 1806 kb) ,Abstract 

Field study presentation: Outcomes of the project ‘In-depth assessment of mangroves and other coastal forests affected by the tsunami in Southern Thailand’. Dr. Chongrak Wachrinrat. Kasetsart University, Thailand Presentation (size: 776 Kb) 

Field study presentation: Understanding tsunami impacts from reef islands' perspective: experience from the Maldives Dr. Mohamed Ali. Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water, Maldives. Director, SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre Presentation (size: 681 kb) 

Protection from cyclones

Thematic paper: The role of coastal forests and trees in protecting against cyclones. Dr. Hermann Fritz. School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA Presentation (size: 574 Kb) ,Abstract 
Field study presentation: Cyclone disaster mitigation in Bangladesh. Prof. M. Alimullah Miyan. South Asian Disaster Management Center, International University of Business Agriculture and Technology. Bangladesh Presentation (size: 126 Kb) ,Abstract 

Field study presentation: Evaluation of storm protection function: a case study of mangrove forest of Orissa, India and the 1999 super cyclone. Ms. Saudamini Das. Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi Enclave, Delhi, India Presentation (size: 1851 kb) ,Abstract 

Protection from wind and salt spray

Thematic paper: The role of coastal forests and trees in protecting against wind and salt spray. Prof. Eugene Takle. Department of Geological and Atmospheric Science. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University, USA Presentation (size: 508 kb) ,Abstract 

Field study presentation: Use of coastal shelterbelts along the East coast of India. Dr. Narasimhan Duvuru. Department of Botany, Madras Christian College, India. Presentation (size: 50 Kb) ,Abstract 

Field study presentation: The important role of trees in combating coastal erosion, wind and salt spray – a New Zealand case study. Mr. Peter Berg. NZ Forestry Limited. New Zealand Presented by Dr. Jeremy Broadhead, FAO. Presentation (size: 359 Kb) ,Paper presentation based on 

Protection from coastal erosion

Thematic paper: The role of coastal forests and trees in protecting against coastal erosion. Mr. Gegar Prasetya. Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology, Indonesia. Presentation (size: 508 kb) ,Abstract 

Field study presentation: Status of coastal erosion in Viet Nam and proposed measures for protection. Dr. Ngo Ngoc Cat. Centre for Training, Consultancy and Technology Transfer. Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology. Presentation (size: 570 kb) ,Abstract 

Coastal area planning and management

Thematic paper: Coastal area planning and management with a focus on disaster management and the protective role of coastal forests and trees. Ms. Jane Preuss. Planwest Partners, USA Presentation (size: 168 kb) ,Abstract 

Field study presentation: Mangrove planting for coastline protection - to plant or not to plant? Mr. Tan Kim Hooi. Centre for Coastal & Marine Environment, Maritime Institute of Malaysia Presentation (size: 460 kb) ,Abstract 

Synthesis

Thematic paper: Synthesis of the protective functions of coastal forests and trees against natural hazards. Dr. Eric Wolanski. Australian Institute of Marine Science Presentation (size: 385 kb) ,Abstract 

Voluntary presentations: Forestry initiatives for coastal protection

UN/International Strategy for Disaster Reduction’s work in Environment and Disaster Reduction, including in coastal protection. Mr. Akshat Chaturvedi, UN/ISDR Regional Programme for Asia and the Pacific. Presentation (size: 66 kb) 

Wetlands International: Green Coast project. Mr. Vikmuthi Weeratunga, IUCN- The World Conservation Union - Sri Lanka Office. Presentation (size: 55 kb) 

IUCN: Mangroves for the Future Initiative. Mr. Vikmuthi Weeratunga, IUCN- The World Conservation Union - Sri Lanka Office. Presentation (size: 92 kb) 

Forestry programme for early rehabilitation of tsunami affected areas in Sri Lanka. Mr. Ananda Wijesooriya, Forest Department, Sri Lanka Presentation (size: 122 kb) 

Tsunami events in Peninsular Malaysia: intensified research and development to establish vegetation for coastal protection Dr. Shamsudin, Forest Research Institute of Malaysia Presentation (size: 404 kb) ,Abstract 

Upcoming activities of SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre related to coastal protection Mohamed Ali. Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water, Maldives. Director, SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre Presentation (size: 137 kb) 

Wrap-up material

Working group output - Diagnostic tools

Workshop conclusions and recommendations

Participants list

Press release: "Post-tsunami: coastal forests can act as bioshields. Other forms of protection are also needed" (4 September 2006)

Proceedings

Related material

"The protective role of coastal forests in human security - fact or illusion". Unasylva, December 2006

Bibliography on forests and coastal protection (Draft)

Bibliography on the protective functions of forests against tsunami

UNEP-WCMC. 2006 In the front line: Shoreline protection and other ecosystem services from mangroves and coral reefs. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK 33 pp

Gilman, E., H. Van Lavieren, J. Ellison, V. Jungblut, L. Wilson, F. Areki, G. Brighouse, J. Bungitak, E. Dus, M. Henry, I. Sauni Jr., M. Kilman, E. Matthews, N. Teariki-Ruatu, S. Tukia, K. Yuknavage.. 2006 Pacific island mangroves in a changing climate and rising sea. UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies No. 179. United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Seas Programme, Nairobi, Kenya.