Sri Lanka to be world’s first state to protect mangrove forests


By Sara Pathirana

Seacology, Executive Director - Duane Silverstein with Sudeesa chairman - Anuradha Wickramasinghe at a conserved mangrove forest at Pambala - Chilaw lagoon.

In a recent announcement, the Sri Lankan government disclosed plans to assist a project focusing on the protection and sustenance of local mangrove ecosystems. The financial investment in this project is US$ 3.4 million.

Sri Lanka will be the first country in the world to have this scheme in place, aiming to protect mangrove habitats. News of this initiative was relayed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) recently.

The project is being undertaken by the Sri Lankan government, the global NGO Seacology and the locally based NGO ‘Sudeesa’, which is also known as the Small Fishers Federation of Lanka. The project will be implemented in sync with the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment.

Sri Lanka alone has lost about 76% of mangrove forests over the past 100 years, it had been reported. The scheme which will seek to ensure the protection of over 21,700 acres of local mangroves will also feature a replanting initiative of an additional 9600 acres of mangroves that had been destroyed previously.

With the aim of also promoting replanting mechanisms, three mangrove nurseries will be initiated. A unique mangrove conservation museum is also on the agenda.

The government’s role in this project will entail an assurance of retaining and docketing the exclusivity of the mangrove forests along with legal protection for all the mangrove entities in the country as well as assigning adept patrol teams to see to the protection of these forests.

Sudeesa’s implementation alongside Seacology will see to the empowerment of localities that have had to depend on felled mangroves as a means of livelihood. With expertise spanning 15 years, Sudeesa as an organization had excelled in engaging locals to receive applicable training and microfinance programs for underprivileged communities.

Attaining a healthy and vibrant mangrove bionetwork has its advantages. Mangrove forests help fight Climate Change in a number of ways. These clusters safeguard the habitat of many fish species from predators. Mangroves also help to improve water resources by trapping dregs and absorbing excess nutrients. Mangrove forests act as a defensive barrier against storms and rising sea levels.


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