Tuesday, 25 January 2005

Life after the Tsunami

The tsunami in the Indian Ocean has been one of the most devastating natural disasters in living memory, and it is also record breaking in many other ways, particularly in media attention and funds raised for the victims. This is all a very good thing. As BBC TV showed last night, even more importantly it has also raised public awareness over the huge disparities in the funding governments devote to poverty alleviation and other forms of foreign aid and what they spend on warfare and invading other countries such as Iraq.

Many of the supporters of the World Land Trust have asked how the disaster affects conservation, and fund raising by conservation organisations. This is interesting, because normally disasters affecting humans have a sudden and dramatic negative impact on conservation fund raising, but in this instance a significant proportion of the public are aware of the importance of habitat conservation as part of the process of general protection of the environment. Almost immediately after the Christmas holidays, we received donations from the public asking that we direct the funds specifically to restoration of mangroves. So it is clear that among the better informed sectors of the public, there is a very clear linkage between the damage done by the tsunami, and the loss of protective mangroves. The World Land Trust has for many years been involved with conservation and restoration of mangroves and the protection of coral reefs in the Philippines, and we were already discussing with the Wildlife Trust of India the possibility of assisting them with projects in the Andaman Islands, and so it is very timely that we are launching our Reef and Mangrove Appeal, which will assist projects aimed at habitat restoration and protection.

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