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    Program ID - bo011205

    Environment and post-tsunami Asia

    Following the devastating tsunamis in Southeast Asia, the priorities are to save human lives and prevent diseases. As the recovery continues, an emerging story is how the environment both mitigated and was damaged by the tsunamis.

    Mangroves - complex ecosystems of tropical coastal forests that are crucial to healthly marine life - are one of the most productive and biodiverse wetlands systems on earth. Growing in the intertidal areas and estuary mouths between land and sea, mangroves provide critical habitat for a diverse marine and terrestial flora and fauna. Reports even indicate that these unique forests reduced the impact of the tsumanis. But they're disappearing - and fast!

    Mangroves used to thrive on the coastlines of Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

    Today on Beyond Organic we'll learn about how mangroves impacted the force of the recent tsunami. We'll also find out what role coral reefs play in ocean dynamics. We'll talk about the single most destructive industry to mangroves: shrimp farms.

    Tune is this Wednesday, as host Jerry Kay, publisher of the Environmental News Network, looks at some environmental considerations for rebuilding the Southeast Asian coastline.

    This Week's Guests:

    Alfredo Quarto — Exec. Dir., Mangrove Action Project

    "When the tsunami struck India's southern state of Tamil Nadu on December 26th, areas in Pichavaram and Muthupet with dense mangroves suffered fewer human casualties and less damage to property compared to areas without mangroves."

    Alfredo Quarto directs the Mangrove Action Project (MAP), which partners with mangrove forest communities, researchers and local governments to conserve and restore mangrove forests and related coastal ecosystems, while promoting community-based, sustainable management of coastal resources.

    Alfredo has spent many years exploring, protecting and restoring mangroves throughout the world and teaching others about their great importance to biodiversity and shoreline protection. In the wake of the tsunami, MAP has called for the establishment of a mangrove 'green-belt' along threatened coastal areas to help protect shoreline communities.

    Drew Weiner — Director, Reef Protection International

    Drew Weiner is director of the Reef Protection International (RPI), an international marine conservation organization headquartered in San Francisco. RPI educates the public about the marine aquarium trade and promotes consumer behavior that enhances coral reef conservation.

    "Reports on the condition of the coral reefs around the affected areas in Thailand are starting to trickle in," according to Drew. "It is not yet known the full extent of the damage to coral reefs as a result of this natural disaster. Many of the people impacted by the tsunami depend on the ocean for their livelihood."

    Pisit Charnsnoh — 2002 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient

    Pisit Charnsnoh, 61, lives and works in Thailand's southern province of Trang, on the Malay Peninsula. In 1985, he and his wife founded the Yadfon Association to work with impoverished coastal villages in Trang.

    The coastal ecosystems of Thailand have been devastated by logging, burning of mangroves for charcoal and commercial shrimp farms (Thailand is the world's largest exporter of cultivated shrimp.) Today, more than half the country's mangrove forests have been lost, and many of the remaining have been burned to produce charcoal. The loss of the mangroves, coral reefs and sea grass beds destroys habitat for sea life and threatens the livelihood of subsistence coastal communities. Additional damage to the inland waters is caused by commercial fishing boats that use a wide variety of harmful practices including explosives, over-fishing, trawling, and drag and push nets that tear up coral reefs and sea grass beds.

    Pisit is on the board of the international Mangrove Action Project, based in Seattle, and is affiliated with the Industrial Shrimp Action Network.

    More information:

  • Mangrove Action Project (MAP)
  • More about mangroves and tsunamis
  • Reef Protection International (RPI)
  • Learn more about Pisit Charnsnoh's work

  • Resources for Journalists:

    Journalists who are interested in researching stories related to any Beyond Organic show topic are encouraged to contact Straus Communication for additional resources, including trend data, background materials, experts, statistics, images and more. The service is free.

    Please contact Michael Straus at 415-777-1170 x 302 or email for more information.



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