As a widely tested approach in response to the 2004 Tsunami, Green Coast is now being promoted by Wetlands International for large scale implementation at tropical coasts worldwide, as a cost-effective approach to adapt to the impacts of climate change such as extreme weather events and salt water intrusion.
Green Coast, a 4,3 million Euro program which was developed and implemented by Wetlands International and its partners WWF, IUCN and Both ENDS, has recently been evaluated by a team of independent consultants from the Netherlands and Sri Lanka.
One of their conclusions is that Green Coast has been ‘of particular high value for closing the gap between immediate humanitarian relief and successful long term recovery of livelihoods of the tsunami affected people’. The program was also praised for ‘its successful gender approach: of the direct beneficiaries about 59% were women’.
Green Coast’ key objective is to rehabilitate the livelihoods of coastal communities through the restoration of coastal ecosystems. The program works science based and uses a community-led approach: coastal restoration work is done by affected communities themselves who are rewarded for their work with small financial capital and technical support to rebuild their livelihoods.
Healthy coastal ecosystems are vital for fisheries and other sources of income for coastal populations such as fisheries, eco-tourism, agriculture and small scale aquaculture. They also function as buffer zones in case of storms or cyclones and prevent coastal erosion and intrusion of salt water into fresh water systems.
In the Tsunami hit areas of Aceh, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Malaysia, Green Coast managed in 2,5 years time to plant more than 3 million seedlings, re-establishing over 1,100 hectares of coastal forest and mangroves. Furthermore, communities were involved in the cleaning up of beaches, more than 1,000 drinking water wells and over 100 hectares of coral reef and sea grass beds. Sand dunes were repaired over a total length of 2,5 km and some other key natural habitats such as lagoons and fresh water ecosystems were restored. T
his improved the environmental security of 91,000 people in the coastal areas and more than 12,000 households directly benefitted from increased income from small businesses such as handicraft making, eco-tourism, fish farming, home industry, vegetable gardens and other Green Coast supported livelihood activities.