Human health and wellbeing are closely linkedto the health and resilience of ecosystems.When natural disasters occur in situationswhere natural resources have been severelydegraded, it is much more diffi cult for communitiesto recover and for people to re-establishtheir lives. By examining lessons fromthe December 2004 tsunami, it is possible toidentify the important role healthy coastal andmarine ecosystems played in buff ering immediateimpacts and protecting human lives, andthe longer-term benefits gained for humanhealth and livelihoods from sustainable use ofnatural resources.Whilst the role resilient ecosystems played inreducing the severe humanitarian impacts ofsuch a powerful phenomenon should not beexaggerated (especially in Sumatra, Indonesia where wave height and force was very high), the potential of healthy ecosystems to hasten the recovery of communities is clearly evident.