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Disaster recovery requires rebuilding livelihoods

The short-term losses people suffer when natural disasters strike can turn into long-term poverty if reconstruction policies don't consider how people are going to make a living. Areas rich in biodiversity raise those stakes even more as people's needs compete with environmental protections, according to a new study that is the first to focus on the "livelihood portfolio" of families when evaluating disaster recovery. More people across the world are exposed to more natural disasters thanks to ecological degradation and climate change. Massive hurricanes, floods and earthquakes not only wreak substantial damage to ecosystems; natural disasters often cause tremendous socioeconomic losses to human communities. A group of natural and social scientists looked at the well-being of people after a disaster. Their focus was on the recovery of the massive 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake in the Wolong Nature Reserve in southwestern China, but the results have relevance for areas worldwide that seek to balance sustainability recovery with the long-term well-being of people.

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