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The MAP News
Editor’s Note: It has been a decade now, but the memory of the 2004 Tsunami will never be forgotten by those who have survived it. While more than a quarter million people lost their lives, the toll on humanity still rises. This issue, we feature a few stories, positive and negative, about the lasting effects of this horrendous disaster.
REMEMBERING THE DISASTER:
A Decade After Asian Tsunami, New Forests Protect the Coast
INDONESIA – The coastline of Aceh, the northernmost province of Indonesian Sumatra, took the brunt of the tsunami on December 26, 2004. Its waters ran red with blood as an estimated 167,000 Indonesians perished, nearly all of them from Aceh. Whole villages disappeared. But the color the survivors want to show you now is green. An ingenious microcredit project funded by the Dutch branch of the humanitarian charity Oxfam Novib, and carried out with local partners by the Netherlands-based NGO Wetlands International, has been helping villagers plant mangroves and other trees. They will revive nature, improve local livelihoods, and — perhaps most important of all — protect against cyclones, coastal erosion, and any future killer waves. READ MORE
Mangrove deforestation in Madagascar: What are the options?
MADAGASCAR - The island nation of Madagascar has long captured the world’s curiosity and is renowned for its unparalleled biodiversity, magnificent landscapes and unique culture. In the northwestern coastal Ambaro-Ambanja bays region, you will encounter mountains transitioning into lowlands littered with lush agro-forest mosaics producing vanilla, cacao, coffee and a cornucopia of fruits – output that would be impossible on the arid lands found further south. These lush landscapes reach right to the coast where they meet postcard perfect white sand beaches and turquoise waters, but also vast, dense mangrove swamps. It was during my first trip here in February 2012 that I initially experienced the diversity of these vast and fascinating coastal ecosystems, but also their rapid decline. READ MORE
REMEMBERING THE DISASTER
The Thai village that escaped the tsunami
THAILAND – Ten years ago when a massive tsunami swept away every house in this small Muslim village in southern Thailand, Cham Khiaw-Nin didn't lament the loss of his property but rather the damage done to the mangrove forest. “Mangroves are vital to us. We survive thanks to them because fish grow on them," says the 60-year-old fisherman, caressing his long white beard in Phang-na province. Villagers in Baan Nai Rai also survived the fury of the earthquake-driven tsunami - which killed more than 220,000 people in a dozen countries, 8,000 in Thailand, on December 26, 2004 - thanks to the protection provided by the dense mangrove forest. With a population of 700, only one person was killed in the village even though the south of Thailand was one of the hardest hit areas by the killer wave 10 years ago. "The mangrove stopped the wave," Cham told Al Jazeera. "Many of the houses were destroyed, but thanks to the forest only one person died." Fisherman Krit Sittiboot, 45, was selling his catch at an inland market on that fateful day. READ MORE
Bangladesh development threatens fragile Sundarbans mangroves
BANGLADESH - Bangladesh's rapid development on the doorstep of the ecologically fragile Sundarbans mangrove forest means "environmental disasters" like this month's oil spill in the massive delta are increasingly likely, experts warn. A cargo ship recently crashed into an oil tanker in thick fog in a river of the Sundarbans, whose intricate network of waterways is home to rare dolphins, endangered Bengal tigers and other animals. Authorities failed to organise a proper clean up until four days after the sunken tanker spewed tens of thousands of litres of oil into a dolphin sanctuary -- ordering villagers and fishermen armed only with sponges and pans to scoop up the thick tar. The world's largest mangrove forest faces further threat from a range of projects underway to feed Bangladesh's booming economy, including a coal-fired power plant and a massive grain silo. READ MORE
Karachi's defensive mangrove barrier faces triple threat
PAKISTAN - Thick mangroves have long protected Karachi, southern Pakistan's sprawling metropolis, from battering by the Arabian Sea, but pollution, badly managed irrigation and years of illegal logging have left this natural barrier in a parlous state. Experts fear that loss of the natural barrier formed by the mangroves could put the city of nearly 20 million people at greater risk from violent storms and even tsunamis. Close to Karachi, the mighty Indus river ends its long journey from the Himalayas in the sea. The river delta is home to the shimmering green mangrove, a delicate ecosystem that thrives in the mingled salt and fresh water. Fisherman Talib Kacchi, 50, recalled taking shelter from monsoon storms in the mangroves as a young man. "When there were storms, we would have tied as many as four boats together with the mangroves, and then we would sit, gossip and sing songs," he said. READ MORE
REMEMBERING THE DISASTER
The failure of reconstruction after the 2004 tsunami
INDONESIA - It was 00.58 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) on 26 December 2004 when a magnitude 9 earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, unleashed energy estimated to be equivalent to 23,000 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. The tremor triggered a series of waves. In the open ocean, these travelled at hundreds of miles an hour. As the waves approached the coastlines of 14 countries in regions from Eastern Africa to South-East Asia they slowed, but rose to up to 30 metres in height. According to the UN, the Boxing Day Tsunami killed nearly 230,000 people and left millions homeless or without access to food, water and the means to make a living. In the years that followed the devastation, governments and international organisations started to rebuild streets, piers and entire villages. Today, many of these areas are full of life again. But the traces of the wave have not disappeared from everywhere. READ MORE
Govt reopens Sundarbans river traffic ignoring call from UN experts
BANGLADESH - Less than a month after shutting it to commercial traffic, Bangladesh has reopened the Shela River route inside the oil spill-stained Sundarbans in a move that should shock environmentalists and experts, and spark fresh concerns. Bangladesh has come in for severe criticism for its less-than-impressive efforts to tackle the disaster in the forest that has been a world heritage site since 1997 and much of whose wildlife is unique to the region. The Ghashiakhali channel, used as India-Bangladesh water protocol route and maritime communication route, was closed nearly three years ago after Mongla's Nala River and Rampal's Kumar River filled up. The government argued that the alternate Shela route had to be reopened for the sake of uninterrupted shipment of fertiliser and raw materials for factories, protect the workers' livelihood, and save the Mongla Port. Promising to prioritise protection of the Sundarbans and its wildlife, it said vessels will not be allowed to ply on the route at night, amid dense fog, and stormy weather. The inter-ministerial committee pushed authorities to finish dredging up the Mongla-Ghashiakhli channel by June. READ MORE
Land plan draws on HM's advice
THAILAND - Nakhon Si Thammarat: A mangrove forest project backed by the King in Chanthaburi's Ao Kung Krabane will serve as a role model for a pilot project on land management for the poor in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources will run the scheme, drawing on lessons learned from the royal initiative in Ao Kung Krabane, which also involved mangrove forests. The 12,618 rai represent reclaimed forest land drawn from 357 shrimp farms that encroached on the forest land in tambon Pakpaya in Muang district, she said. The ministry has been working closely with Kasetsart University to zone the mangrove areas for forest conservation and an economic zone, she said. A buffer zone has also been set up to prevent coastal erosion hitting the province. READ MORE
Will New Relations With Cuba Impact Its Pristine Ocean Environment?
CUBA - With the news yesterday from President Obama that his administration is moving to normalize relations with Cuba, many experts have argued that ending the embargo would be a boon for the island nation’s economy. But whether it will be an entirely beneficial thing for Cuba’s natural environment and surrounding oceans remains to be seen. In the environmental community, many organizations that have been working tirelessly on ocean conservation in the Caribbean hope that there can now be true cooperation between the U.S. and Cuba in the environmental realm. Dr. David Guggenheim, founder of Ocean Doctor, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and restoring our oceans through hands-on conservation, has legitimate concerns about the impacts of ending the embargo. READ MORE
REMEMBERING THE DISASTER
Asia remembers devastating 2004 tsunami with prayers, memorial services
WORLD NEWS - Survivors of Asia's 2004 tsunami and relatives of its 226,000 victims gather along shorelines of the Indian Ocean on Friday for prayers and memorial services to mark the 10th anniversary of a disaster that still leaves an indelible mark on the region. The past decade has seen more than $400 million spent across 28 countries on an early-warning system comprising 101 sea level gauges, 148 seismometers and nine buoys, but there are still concerns about the region's preparedness for another tsunami. Millions in coastal areas are still vulnerable, some experts say. READ MORE
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Friday, January 9, 2015
MAP News Issue 355 - January 10, 2015
Posted by BlogAdmin at 9:07 PM