Strategic Cooperation

Green Coast - For Nature and People after the Tsunami (sustainable landuse)

The Green Coast Project aims to restore natural defences of coastal areas in Asia

Four international organisations have given the green light to a natural restoration of the coastal areas in Asia. The goal is to rehabilitate the ecosystems in these areas and, as a result, to guarantee the local population income from natural resources and a safe living environment. The project was developed in response to the tsunami that hit the region on 26 December 2004. In places where mangroves, coastal forests and coral reefs were still intact, the effects were less disastrous. Through this project, the organisations want to work with governments and the local population to achieve sound coastal development.

'Experience has taught us that poorly considered coastal development led to increased damage from the tsunami. In the past, many mangrove forests were cut down to make way for shrimp farms or hotels and houses on the seafront. It is important that the same mistakes are not repeated. The key focus of the project is to enable safety, nature conservation and economic development to progress hand in hand', says project manager Marie-José Vervest of the Green Coast project at Wetlands International.

The initiators of the project are: Wetlands International, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Both ENDS and the IUCN Netherlands Committee in collaboration with their sister organisations on site. The project focuses on the countries of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia. In addition to community-based initiatives such as planting mangroves, cleaning up coral reefs, protecting fishing grounds and restoring coastal wetlands, the project also focuses on advising and influencing local governments and construction companies to be cautious when it comes to building near the seafront.

Vervest: 'We work from a vision that will benefit both the natural environment and the coastal population. If natural resources are restored, it will generate income. A healthy coral reef, for instance, can attract eco-tourism. But just like mangrove forests, the coral reef also serves as a breeding ground for fish and is therefore vitally important for the local fishing industry. Careful reconstruction and planning is needed to ensure that people can benefit from the services provided by these coastal ecosystems. The lesson is not to build near the seafront but more inland.'

The four organisations have received four million euros via NOVIB/Oxfam Nederland to implement the project; funds that were donated by the Dutch public after the tsunami disaster. The first phase of the Green Coast Project runs to December 2006. The aim is to obtain international financing for the continuation of the project.

If you would like to know more about the project, please visit the Green Coast website:

For all questions regarding the whole project, you can contact the project manager Ms. Marie José Vervest at marie-jose.vervest(at)

Acknowledgements: The Green Coast project is managed by Wetlands International in close collaboration with Both ENDS, IUCN Netherlands Committee and the World Wildlife Fund of the Netherlands. These four organizations have longstanding experience in nature conservation and sustainable management of wetlands and coastal zones.