Preliminary Participant Meeting
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami effects on Sri Lanka; Prithiviraj Fernando, Sanjayan Muthulingam, Ravi Corea, and other unidentified people
Director General, Wildlife Conservation
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
29 Jan 2005
- Yala National Park; Park office
- 6.372778 81.516944
Decoded MS Stereo
NPR/NGS DAT #12
January 29, 2005
San = Sanjayan Muthulingam
PF = Prithiviraj "Pruthu" Fernando
Ravi = Ravi Corea
EA = Elizabeth Arnold
MS = Michael Schweppe
4:34 ambience of meeting during break (tea)
5:00 good everyone talking at once, no one too distinct. Very good¿6:06..
(for the first time all gathered to share information..)..energy wanes at 8:00
picks up again 11:00
12:20 still chatting
12:31 clapping of hands to get meeting to start (not real obvious)
13:18 chair pull
13:32 Ravi ..i would like to thank blah blah..i want to kind of say that the tsunami is really two things, an incredible natural disaster (off mic) but it's also an incredible historic event and important for us to record everything about it..to leave a good comprehensive reference for the future." * (maybe)
(can hear generator faintly in bg)
SJ presentation at meeting
19:56 the entire time we spent on this took one week, so this is like super rapid assessment so just keep that in mind as we go through this and the purpose was to cover as much ground as possible as opposed to being detailed in any one place so this committee and others can decide where to put resources in terms of long range studies etc.
20:30 dive sites..Hikkaduwa, Unuwatunne, Mirrisssa, Pollhena
(looking for live coral breakage, debris and percentage of live coral, visibility)
24:14 I was actually surprised, if I had to summarize this, I was actually surprised on these reefs how little impact I saw of the tsunami, now I've heard it's different if you go to the east coast, but on these reefs, not that much direct impact¿.the big coral breakages..so I don't think I would classify that as hugely problematic.
25:06 truth of the matter there wasn't much live coral (like 20%)
28:40 so this is a patch of very healthy live coral¿ (narrating slides)
41:00 the purpose of this was to quickly give this committee and ability to prioritize quickly on a very large and difficult to reach coast. (long term monitoring plan
41:53 so we were going to fly 80 k of coastline from bundula to aconda. Which turned out to be 280 k of flying because it's like this (on heli) map, to track major areas of incursion¿
100 to 150 meter altitude, tracking it on gps recorder (500 feet)
immediate removal of human debris, prickly pear cactus..long term monitoring of key areas..
50:40 so this red dot will tell you where the helicopter went¿
54:21 he's flying the debris line as best he can and when we see inundation, take a way point, correspond and then we follow as best we can on inside perimeter..and then you can see and he comes back and rejoins his original track, and I feel confident,it will be an underestimate..ideally what we now should do is take areas in block one that you have walked and you can caluate error and extrapolate it up coast and figure out how much area has been inundated in park..
for this area..just these areas where you have grass or marsh or forest..4,100 hectares.
Between Yala to the northern border..
Primarily terrestrial habitats at minimum 4,100 hectares..
58:16 (gov guy) can we prioritize now? Yes that's up to your experts..
59:21 start of disintegration of meeting..asking questions trying to figure out..
59:53..yes yes you're right¿.ahh¿we can give you exact acreage..managanga..
1:03:32 better disintegration¿blah blah..if you don't see vegetation change you
won't pick it up.. (watch out for drop out)¿.1:04:48¿
1:05 NICE ¿that is that..zoom a little bit¿exactly¿(coordinating..) good! *******
Then bring in Sanjayan's interview¿we didn't capture these¿good ¿.1:07:04..we're
probably at about 80 percent.
(this shows heaviest vegetative impact)
1:09..you would want to set up monitoring plots, in places accessible..SJ giving good
direction about monitoring¿(good really figuring out what plots)
1:11:16 more good meeting sound..all chatting (not tea)..
1:11:33 Ravi wraps up.. I would like to thank all these good hearted people for helping us so as I said anytime you want to further discuss, we'll discuss¿and we really want to thank captain sing¿
1:12:32 so..thank you very much¿.applause¿thank you ravi, job well done..we landed with ten gallons left, any more and it's like..we would have been tsunami casualties..
1:14:35 intv with Director General of department of wildlife conservation.
No clue how to say his name. (doing it since 2001)
1:15:11 when compared to the whole country its very negligible, minimal, I would say it's about..yala 100,000 hectares, were talking about 5 percent of it.
It has not damaged animals, only damage which I feel bad about is human loss, () other than that there is not much damage¿that is the real loss..
1:16 apart from that..we can learn, good lab for world, how this calamity can change ecological behavior, so very good learning ground for future, very small area to do that.
1:16:47 this will be the baseline for that, I think it will be a long term thing, at very beginning interesting and then ten years later¿
1:17:17 the animals, no hesitation having park near the beach, although it is not proven, we did not find a single carcass, I have cruised area for human bodies, but never found any carcasses, so we are pretty much safe as a sanctuary for the animals.
1:17:59 so this study will provide us with that kind of areas how we can restore, like cleaning the debris and cleaning the beaches for nesting turtles and you know sand dunes and the mangroves so what I would like to achieve at the end of this study would be a natural protection system, how far it has protected and how we could promote that kind of protection system by man, whether we can build sand dunes, or accelerate the natural process, or strengthen it, so that kind of thing we could start immediately. ********
1:19:04 this is really good opportunity, we have to talk about human loss but I always tell myself this is good opp. Revenue..large number of visitors here, lot of communities depending on park, safari, trackers, etc, economic hublike, so we are in a way very happy we have large area conserving for wildlife..so that is a very good example in sustaining parks. ¿¿(1830's begun!)
1:21:11 committed? Its under ministry of environment..so I think there is probably, it is another opp, more emphasis..how decisions should be taken with scientific data.
Now they talking about hundred meters, they talking about sand dunes, they talking about mangroves which only we have been talking all this time, now all the big people are talking about this, I'm really glad..so anytime I talk about something people know about it¿
1:22:33 more than the dollars it's the thinking, why science is important..is rather difficult to explain to decision makers sometimes, why we are keeping all these things, why sand dune important, now we have very good opportunity, it has already proven
so I think we have a great start."********
1:23:12 I'm really happy about the recommendations they have made, they are coming up with very focused recommendations ..so I have good plan.. *******
1:23 44 I think we have very good piece of area here, it is actually very high in numbers of leopards..we saw two, elephants are increasing and we are trying to give back benefits to local people who have been deprived of this land, so more people come..and that income will help in conservation.
1:24:44 ambi for interview (after car)¿1:25¿¿..with birds till 1:27:30
final SJ interview (covering 80 k of coast)
1:29: 27 EA so what happened here do you think?
1:29:28 SJ couple of interesting things happened. I think the head of the dept is going to be far more interested in collaboration and the whole idea behind when we first talked when I came to things thing, get the ngo's the conservation orgs that are nascent in this country to influence the dept and get the dept to step up and influence the conservation orgs and what they're doing I think too. I think you just saw that here.
1:30:02 I knew that, when that presentation was going on and the head of the wildlife department said can we do that right here can we do that right now figure out where we want to do the monitoring, I went boy that's fantastic. Driving here in the car we were like look the best case scenario for this meeting, the best case is the department invites the ngo's to work in the park, not just on elephant problem but ecological issues¿
1:31:28 see the history here the conservation orgs tend to be advocacy and who they pointed fingers at was the dept, and dept just wants to keep its head down because issues around national parks so to get this kind of thing, where ngo's are saying here's the data
you can have it..i feel very good about this, keep the pressure up, if we'd stand up and deliver and they probably will too.
1:32:10 there's one other thing key the world bank rep was here. And he's basically the rep in country on enviro issues, so he says to me, look all this reconstruction that's going to take place in sri lanka is going to occur through a task force () that the pres has set up and it has housing food schools roads, etc etc on it () and if you're an aid org it's going through that task force, there's no one on the environment on it, and he says I can't push it too much, he says gov isn't pushing it..() look we got to get a way to do that, the idea is
to reconstruct people's lives and there are clearly people's lives who depend on nature.
In providing the money to reconstruct money for their livelihoods provide just a little bit of money to make sure it's sustainable, and now I know what the mechanism is to get that¿
1:34:40 you get one meeting. Now I know what to do. (can we have enviro representation on your task force so that reconstruction isn't environmentally damaging, and two the people who's livelihoods are from the environmental are given a chance to protect the environment, doesn't seem like rocket science.
1:35:30 EA greatest hope out of this?
1:35:32 SJ greatest hope is that these conservation orgs that are nascent in this country find a better and more useful role with the dept of wildlife and conservation and visa versa and number two that this reconstruction that occurs in the most environmentally sensitive manner possible (instead of dumping it all in the ocean) and number three maybe that the big ngo's have a role in sri lanka. But I don't want to presume that.
1:36:16 EA you've wanted to do this for some time.
1:36:18 yeah I wanted to do this for a decade but it's one of those things of being ready for something and then you know doors open and doors close..
1:36:38 I mean tthe great thing about this was that team that we had were very willing to change plans along the way, I mean we really did go from sort of boats, foot, road, helicopter and space, and make it all work within a week. That's good.
1:37:13 and the scary thing is I didn't have any idea either, I sort of a rough idea of what I wanted and I think we got there, in some ways we almost got more..
1:38:04 I think you've pretty much probed and asked about everyone and everything
1:38:07 I think the neatest thing for me is to come here and find a receptive audience and feel like I'm part of the team and direct it a bit.
1:38:35 EA nature's resilient blah blah, but that's not what's going on here, it's more about what is the enviro ethic here, it's more, a stepping off point, we learned a lesson, reefs were already more damaged, mangroves are important, refocus on those issues?
1:39:33 SJ I totally know what you mean and I completely agree with that, that's what good expeditions are made of and that's what good science is made of, you come expecting to do one thing you learn on the way and you realize the question has to be changed and that's what happened here, so..
1:39:51 (you're right) the tsunami was just the catalyst to bring these groups together and the biggest impact that will ever happen to this park in the next fifty years is not the tsunami, it will be what is starting to happen in rooms like this, (because a tsunami brought very unusual partners together) (under a common agenda of helpful let's be helpful for a change.) (could flip)
1:41:25 Outside meeting ambi (for SJ interview ..wind) jeep goes by at 1:42:00