Thursday, October 11, 2012

Report calls for using ecosystems in disaster prevention

Mićo Tatalović in  More research is needed to understand how ecosystems can help reduce disaster risks around the world, according to a report launched in Brussels, Belgium, today. The World Risk Report 2012 says that human development activities have "massively raised the hazard potential".

It cites the destruction of coral reefs and mangrove forests in South-East Asia — which has reduced protection against flooding and tidal waves — and increased deforestation, which has led to worsening soil erosion and the exacerbation of floods and landslides in Pakistan. If future development is "poorly done", it will put even more vulnerable people at risk from disasters, the report warns.

But it also outlines an alternative scenario in which the conservation of ecosystems works hand in hand with sustainable development to link disaster risk reduction, environmental and socioeconomic goals. For example, governments in the Caribbean could focus on coral reef restoration to reduce their exposure to storms, it says.

"Disaster prevention [methods] taking 'green solutions' into account should become a fundamental part of international development negotiations," said Peter Mucke, director of Alliance Development Works, at the launch.

Evidence shows that intact ecosystems can significantly reduce disaster risk, the report says, but these insights have been given "too little attention by politics and science". There is now a need to "identify places where conservation and restoration of ecosystems represent particularly good solutions for risk reduction". And there is a need for better data and the integration of local studies into international disaster-preparedness plans....

Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove) forest, Caeté estuary, Bragança, Pará, Brazil, shot by Ulf Mehlig, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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