Mangroves Reduce Tsunami Impacts

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

gI_64909_mangrove Research at the Disaster Research Nexus (DRN) at Universiti Sains Malaysia suggests that mangroves have a protective role in disaster events such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

They Do? Who would have thought? Really? When will we stop reinventing the wheel?

An analysis of earthquake and tsunami risks presented this month in the Pertanika Journal of Science & Technology suggests that mangrove forests have a protective role in the event of a tsunami. The researchers, from the newly formed Disaster Research Nexus (DRN) at Universiti Sains Malaysia, hope that their work will encourage the development of better prepared communities.

While this research highlights the needs for conservation of the mangrove forests it presents only something that has been well known and well documented already, I would suggest. So, why spend money on yet another study to discover something that we have all already known?

The 2004 Banda Aceh earthquake and ensuing Andaman mega tsunami that caused widespread devastation and killed over a quarter of a million people worldwide was a wake-up call to many. Immediately afterwards, work was initiated to help develop human capacity and resources, and to mitigate future events. Koh Hock Lye and colleagues at the DRN developed a tsunami simulation model to investigate the role of coastal vegetation in reducing the impact of such events.

Using the model, the team analysed the earthquake risk for the Upper Padas Dam in Sabah, and found that the presence of mangroves appeared to reduce the impact of tsunamis. The research also showed that tsunamis can affect the salinity of water and soil and induce vegetative changes in affected regions.

Mangrove forests are one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems, with a fifth of the world’s mangroves having been destroyed over the last few decades. This research highlights the need to conserve them in areas where the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis are high.

The team hope that their work will improve research collaboration and allow better preparedness for seismic events worldwide.

The Pertanika Journal of Science & Technology aims to provide a forum for high quality research related to science and engineering research. Areas relevant to the scope of the journal include: bioinformatics, bioscience, biotechnology and bio-molecular sciences, chemistry, computer science, ecology, engineering, engineering design, environmental control and management, mathematics and statistics, medicine and health sciences, nanotechnology, physics, safety and emergency management, and related fields of study.

The research paper is available for download here: Pertanika J. Sci. & Technol. 20 (1): 151 – 163 (2012)

The fact is, and, as I have said before, is something that is known, or should be known, as it has been mentioned often enough, that the mangroves need conserving, as do many other ecosystems that protect us from the impacts of a variety of things.

However, far too often greed, mammon, gets in the way and Nature has to make way for “progress”, as it is then called each and every time. But is it progress to destroy the lungs of the Planet and/or the protection zones at the costs? I do not think so.

Nature is much better at doing a variety of things than we will ever be; best we leave Her to doing it.

© 2012

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