Protected areas protecting people
a tool for Disaster Risk Reduction
Photo: Radhika Murti
The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) notes: “protection of vital ecosystem services is fundamental to reducing vulnerability to disasters and strengthening community resilience” but also that: “although the inherent links between disaster reduction and environmental management are recognized, little research and policy work has been undertaken on the subject. The intriguing concept of using environmental tools for disaster reduction has not yet been widely applied by many practitioners”. While many communities instinctively use natural ecosystems such as forests, coral reefs and natural dryland vegetation to protect themselves against the impacts of natural hazards, others are suffering because environmental degradation has taken these ecosystem services away and left people, literally, exposed to the weather. Despite recent focus on this issue, the 2010 mid-term review of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA - the global blueprint for disaster risk reduction (DRR) from 2005 to 2015) highlighted that Priority for Action 4 Reduce the Underlying Risks had made the least progress and countries did not report much progress on “successfully reducing underlying risk through sustainable natural resource management and the incorporate of disaster risk reduction measures into environment planning and management”- Investing in ecosystem services for DRR is therefore a key priority, in a world where deaths from disasters have steadily been mounting for decades and where variable weather patterns are increasingly exacerbating the impacts of such disasters.