Published on June 5, 2008
Section Green Report / Media
photo by apes_abroad (copyleft cc)
With all the natural disasters pummeling the planet over the past few years, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Roland Emmerich’s 2004 “The Day After Tomorrow” for a documentary rather than a blockbuster. The May 2nd cyclone in Myanmar proved particularly devastating: 133,000 dead or missing and a staggering 2.4 million homeless.
It’s saddening to learn that the destruction of coastal mangroves around the Irrawaddy River delta over the past few decades, “amplified the flooding and worsened devastation” caused by cyclone Nargis, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization. As people moved closer to the coast, “the combination of new settlements and deforestation for fish ponds and farmland set the stage for the disaster”, said Jan Heino, the F.A.O.’s assistant director general for forestry. Since 1975, the mangrove forests of the Irrawaddy Delta have halved while wood harvesting has reduced its density.