Building resilience through ecosystem restoration and community participation: Post-disaster recovery in coastal island communities
In post-disaster recovery phases, many communities reduce their vulnerabilities to future disasters by implementing community-based approaches. However, since these processes impact resource allocation, access to natural resources, and benefit distributions, these efforts have changed the environment and altered social relations. Therefore, this research explores how disaster empowers or disempowers stakeholders by investigating the interdependence of social relations in post-disaster natural resource management. After the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the island of Koh Klang demonstrated resilience in restoring its ecosystem. We have used this as a case study featuring a community-based project. Interviews and participant observations were conducted in the field in 2014 to collect firsthand information from local residents, NGOs, and the public sector. Text and discourse analyses were conducted based on interview data, government documents, and field notes. The findings show that after a disaster, natural resources and embedded social norms form the basis for a resilient community. Using community- and ecosystem-based methods fosters a community's environmental and social resilience and prepares it to respond to future disasters. However, such methods can also transform local politics, especially when residents' inequitable vulnerabilities and access to power are coupled with jurisdictional and land tenure issues. This research recommends that disaster recovery and mitigation policies are scaled to local levels.