Subject: Floods and washouts: Environment Restoration in East Timor urgently needed

Floods and washouts show the urgent need to restore the Environment of East Timor

The recent flooding and washouts which made delivery of election material difficult, let alone the direct impact on inhabitants, show once again the need to restore the environment of East Timor.

This claim is made by long term East Timor supporter, agricultural scientist and ecologist, Rob Wesley-Smith from Darwin.

Since 1999 the population has had to turn to using timber as fuel for cooking. Also the population is increasing rapidly and unsustainably, and some people on returning to their own lands after being displaced by the Indonesian occupation have reverted to traditional slash and burn agriculture, which can be very damaging to the environment. There is a culture of burning rather than mulching, and this must stop.

Otherwise what we see increasingly is that rainwater hits bare soil and rushes off into streams and rivers as floods instead of soaking into the soil to feed crops and emerge later as springs. This also means dry season water supplies are drying up. All things impact on the total ecology - even reefs are at risk from mud dumped on them.

I hope the new President and Government when formed will place restoration of the environment into the urgent category, with side benefits of work schemes, assistance in rural areas for catchment management, at the same time we can achieve better food and timber supply and so improve people's health and standard of living. Education and imaginative action are required.

Rob Wesley-Smith Darwin

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