News Archive

posted 06/15/05

 

Indian Ocean Tsunami Reports From the Field

With Recovery Comes New Pressure on Resources

May 9, 2005
The southern tip of Sri Lanka

By Guillermo Franco, Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio, Bijan Khazai and J. Carter Ingram

Protecting the environment is crucial in areas where people’s livelihoods are directly dependent on the availability of natural resources. The natural environment seems to have withstood the direct force of the tsunami waves and the resulting flooding and the most significant challenges to natural resource management may arise much later in the aftermath of the disaster.

Matara, Sri Lanka

A permanent resettlement area near Hambantota. An intensification of resource use for fuel-wood and building materials could result in over-exploitation of natural ecosystems if management schemes in these new communities are not implemented at an early stage. Photo credit: Bijan Khazai

Land for resettlement is limited in Sri Lanka, and much of the land that has been designated for resettlement communities is government land, which may border on protected areas or other previously uninhabited areas.

An intensification of resource use for fuel-wood and building materials could result in over-exploitation of natural ecosystems if management schemes in these new communities are not implemented at an early stage.

The rebuilding of approximately 80,000 homes will require significant amounts of timber and sand (for concrete), which could threaten resources important for biodiversity, ecosystem protection and natural hazard vulnerability reduction (such as sand dunes and coastal trees).

Additionally, the disposal of large amounts of debris remains a significant environmental challenge in coastal areas where landfills and waste disposal sites are limited. Many lagoons — important fishing locations — are also full of debris but have not yet been cleared due to a lack of resources.

Fishing in lagoons has also intensified now that many sea-going fishermen, who have lost their boats and nets, can no longer go out to sea and are now sharing the lagoon fisheries with those who fished there before the tsunami. This is taxing these small pools of fish, and decreasing the earning potential of all fishermen.

 

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