Asia’s coastal restoration has on article –The right way to rebuild Asia’s coastal barrier – on plans by tsunami impacted countries to restore coastal ecosystems. It discusses how plans need to consider the economic values of the ecosystem services produced by mangroves as well as the need to design ecologically appropriate mangrove governance strategies.

Now, governments in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand all want to restore what nature once provided for free: they plan to spend millions of dollars replanting thousands of hectares of mangrove forest.

Scientists applaud the ‘greening’ agenda but warn that to succeed, replanting strategies must include workforce training and supervision, maintenance of seedlings, and increased public awareness about coastal land use. Some economists add that we need a better understanding of the relationship between these endangered ecosystems and the communities that rely on them.

“Reforestation is unlikely to succeed in the long term because the underlying policies haven’t changed,” says Edward Barbier, an environmental economist at the University of Wyoming, United States, who has done extensive research on Thailand’s mangroves. Barbier is not surprised that Thailand suffered such extreme damage; since 1961, more than half its mangroves have been removed.

Replanting is critical to restoring ecosystems, he says, but trees alone cannot create the long-term stability needed for sustainable economic growth.

Mangroves tend to be undervalued in economic calculations, which only include the benefits of developing them (such as woodchips or farmed shrimp). This makes it easy for governments to gamble on ‘developing’ the forests. The tsunami clearly raised the stakes — and strengthened the case for protection that ecologists and economists have been making for years.

Previous posts on the tsunami and coastal resilience are: Coral Reefs & Tsunami, Building resilience to deal with disasters, and After the Tsunami.

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