Along a strip of India's southeastern coastline, forests protected certain villages from last December's tsunami there, while waves wiped out neighboring settlements that weren't sheltered by vegetation. Those observations provide some of the best evidence yet that forests can guard coastal communities from the ravages of an angry sea.
Mangroves, which grow in tidal areas, are widely perceived to protect land against major storms and waves. Laboratory models and anecdotes from the field support that notion, but little rigorous, real-world evidence exists.
For ecologist Finn Danielsen of the Copenhagen-based nonprofit organization Nordic Agency for Development and Ecolog