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Photo: Stephanie March/IRIN

Replanting of coastal flora, such as mangroves, is needed to stop the effects of rising sea levels and extreme weather that is destroying Timor-Leste's coastline

DILI, 31 July 2008 (IRIN) - Since it was built in 1983, residents of Dili have watched the retaining wall of the Pantai Kelapa road along Timor-Leste's coastline slowly erode.

Some say it is because of the effects of climate change - increasing numbers of ferocious storms have caused waves to batter the edges of the road.

But it is impossible to be certain because of a 25-year gap in environmental data.

"There is data starting from the 1950s but it's not complete because of the Indonesian occupation," Adao Soares, Timor-Leste's national focal point for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told IRIN.

"So starting from 1975 there is no climate data for Timor-Leste until 2000."

A lack of data is not the only challenge. Limited human resources make it difficult to undertake impact, vulnerability and adaptation studies. The fledgling nation is seeking funding to tackle climate change from various places - including the Global Environment Facility, but it is unlikely to come through before 2010.

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Farmers and food security

Farmers too are noticing changes in the environment. Despite the lack of data, agricultural experts cite farmers who say traditional practices and planting cycles no longer fit with the changing weather patterns.