Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Could better mangrove habitats have spared lives in the 2004 tsunami?

22.06.2005


Accounts of the tsunami that killed over a quarter of a million people in Southeast Asia on the 26th of December, 2004, slowly disappear from the media, but the event is nevertheless heavily burned into the memories of those who are directly involved. In the aftermath of the disaster, academics and politicians alike are trying to investigate how the number of casualties could have been reduced and, more important, how such severe damage can be avoided if a tsunami ever strikes again. In an essay published this week in the June 21 issue of Current Biology, a group of researchers recount the first findings arising from their recent assessment of how mangrove ecosystems might have influenced the tsunami’s impacts on coastal communities.


Credit: Farid Dahdouh-Guebas



The research represents a collaborative effort, with participants from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium; the University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka; the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute; and the Institut Français de Pondichéry, India.

Mangrove greenbelts were known to offer some protection against destructive ocean events, such as tsunamis and (far more frequently) tropical cyclones, but they have not always been valued for that function. Economic and political interference, driven by short-term benefit, has been responsible for the destruction of thousands of hectares of mangrove forest (e.g., in East Africa, on the Indian subcontinent, and in Banda Aceh, Indonesia), resulting in the loss of the natural, protective "dyke" function of mangroves in addition to the loss of other services that mangroves provide to local economies and ecosystems. Although many politicians, journalists, and scientists have made post-tsunami statements about the barrier function of mangroves, most have failed to recognize that this function has never actually been investigated in detail.


In their essay, the authors present an account of the first post-tsunami field assessment they’ve undertaken, in Sri Lanka. The researchers investigated the impact of the tsunami at 24 different mangrove sites, comparing the event’s effects to the size, history, and quality of the local mangroves. The researchers found that where mangroves occur, they did in fact offer protection from the tsunami. Mangrove fringes near the water’s edge appeared to take most of the energy from the tsunami waves, and they showed evidence of damage in some cases, but the researchers found few examples of mangrove trees actually being uprooted.

However, mangroves at numerous sites had experienced pre-tsunami degradation. This disruption, resulting from human impact, included "cryptic ecological degradation" (see also Current Biology, March 29, 2005), which involves subtle changes in species composition. From their assessments of the 24 coastal sites, the researchers concluded that even these seemingly minor alterations, which do not necessarily involve a reduction in mangrove area, have had a profound impact on the damage that the 2004 tsunami inflicted on the coastal zone. This puts the drastic clearing of mangroves, and the conversion of mangrove habitats to shrimp farms in other areas, into even starker perspective.

The authors highlight the urgent need for a union between management-driven research (research that specifically focuses on environmental aspects that need to be managed) and research-driven management (management that is based on facts from scientific research). The team emphasizes that an early-warning system for mangrove degradation should be seen as being as important for future protection as are early-warning systems for tsunami arrivals; the authors contend that if put in place, such ecological warning systems, along with the restoration of mangroves and other natural defenses, could be more effective in saving human lives and property.

Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.current-biology.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems
30.10.2018 | University of Virginia

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>