Take a long trip to Asia for your work as a nature manager of the Wadden Sea. That may not sound logical, but Henk Middendorp traveled to Sri Lanka to advise the country on what to do in the event of a natural disaster. Local authorities must then be better prepared for such a situation.
The reason was a sunken container ship in 2021. “There was a lot of waste in the sea at that time, plastic granules ended up on the beach. A lot of acid was released and fish and turtles died,” Middendorp explains, “then they decided that they were not properly were prepared for such disasters and we received a request to come that way.”
Together with local authorities, Middendorp and colleagues looked at how the country is preparing for a disaster. “Everything stands or falls with the preparation.” In Sri Lanka, from a practical point of view, they were not prepared enough, Middendorp noted. “We and our team gave them legal, ecological and practical tips.”
As an example, the nature manager indicates that they have recommended having an overview on an A4 sheet of paper for each type of disaster of who is responsible, who should be called and what the options are. “You want to limit the scope of a disaster and be on site as quickly as possible.”
The nature manager is not surprised that things are less well organized on the Asian island than here. “Sri Lanka is a country under construction, they have to make do with the resources they have. So you cannot blame them. That is why it is important that you give them tips so that they can manage with limited money and resources be able to.”
Middendorp does not dare to say whether he will return again soon. “We spoke to the ambassador and he saw opportunities for other parts of Asia, but that remains to be seen. And it is not certain that I will go,” he concludes.