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After 2004 tsunami, newly planted mangroves protect from future disasters and increase fish population


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(NaturalNews) Ten years ago this month, one of the worst natural disasters to ever affect humanity occurred in the Indian Ocean and involved a dozen nations. On December 26, 2004, the Indian Ocean Tsunami, also called the Boxing Day Tsunami, killed over 230,000 people and left millions of others homeless in 12 countries.

The coastline of Aceh, on the northernmost province of Sumatra, Indonesia, was the hardest-hit area. Over 165,000 people died in Indonesia that day, and the vast majority of them were from Aceh. One of the survivors from Aceh was Hajamuddin, a fisherman who was at sea when the tsunami struck.

Tsunami generated by worst earthquake on the planet in 40 years

Earthquakes are caused by the movement of portions of the earth's crust, called tectonic plates, which send shock waves in every direction. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), this earthquake was caused by the India plate sliding underneath the Burma plate beneath the ocean floor, causing a rupture over 600 miles long. At the time, it was the largest earthquake in 40 years, and the shock waves it generated produced the horrific tsunami that followed.

Hajamuddin returned home and found his village, Gle Jong, destroyed by the powerful waves and covered by 10 feet of water. Most devastating to him was the news that only seven of the 800 residents of Gle Jong had survived. "My family was all gone," said Hajamuddin.

But this is not a sad story. It is a story of recovery and renewal. Gle Jong is being rebuilt by a combination of returnees and new residents. Hajamuddin and his new wife have a recently built home, set back from the coast, and count themselves among the 130 residents of the village.

Wetlands International (WI) and the Green Coast Project (GCP) were among the foreign aid agencies that participated in the enormous international rehabilitation program for victims of the tsunami. These two agencies specialize in restoring coastal ecosystems. GCP started 16 coastal rehabilitation projects in Aceh in July 2005, including Gle Jong Village, by providing technical and financial assistance. Project implementation was conducted by WI and consisted of planting 65,000 trees, which included 60,000 mangrove trees, and the rehabilitation of coastal economic activities such as fishing.

New study of coastal management confirms mangrove planting key to success

The results of a new study on mangrove-assisted fisheries by WI, the Nature Conservancy and the University of Cambridge were released on November 24:

The study concludes that fish populations that rely on mangroves will be highest where mangrove biomass productivity is highest, as leaves and woody materials form a key part of the marine food chains. Fish productivity is also higher where there is high freshwater input from rivers and rainfall and where mangroves are in good condition. The total area of mangrove is clearly important in determining the total numbers of fish, but the length of the mangrove margin is also key, since generally it is the fringes of mangroves where fish populations are enhanced.

The study also noted that the physical characteristics of mangrove roots provide an ideal environment for oysters, mollusks and crustaceans to thrive in.

The international cooperation of national and local governments, foreign aid agencies and other non-governmental organizations has led to the planting of millions of mangrove trees, as well as other types of trees, in Indonesia, in an effort to protect the their coastal regions along the Indian Ocean from future natural disasters, improve the ecological health of those regions and provide economic prosperity to the people living there.

Perhaps Hajamuddin summed it up best: "When the floods come again, the mangroves can save us."







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