12 May 2008

Cyclone Nargis has been called one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit Asia, killing an estimated 100,000 people in Burma, also known as Myanmar. Many were angered by the country’s military junta insistence on hindering the distribution of emergency aid. And some people say the generals’ policies made the devastation even worse than it would have been otherwise.

Like much of Asia, Burma was once home to mangroves, dense forests that grew along the coasts of much of the continent. For decades before the storm, these forests were in decline, decimated to make room for shrimping farms and rice paddies, or to harvest wood. Burma lost almost all of its mangroves in the 85 years preceding the cyclone. And according to Alfredo Quartro, that’s meant higher death tolls from hurricanes and cyclones. He’s the Executive Director of the Mangrove Action Project and he joined us from Port Angeles in Washington State.

Mangroves and Shrimp Farms – Advocate

Not everyone agrees that shrimp farms are a primary cause of the destruction of mangrove forests. Stephen Newman is a microbiologist and the President of Aqua-in-Tech, a company that works with shrimp farmers around the world. He spoke to us from Lynnwood, Washington.

Mangroves and Disasters – Global View

Whatever the reason, mangroves all over the world shrank drastically for most of the twentieth century. And even though the loss of mangroves has been blamed for the devastation wreaked by several hurricanes and the 2004 tsunami, they’re still disappearing.

For a look at the global picture, we were joined by Zoe Chafe, a researcher who specializes in urban disasters and sustainable tourism with the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C.

Click hear and scroll down the page to hear the interviews in Part 3.

Source: The Current