Sri Lanka Becomes the First Country to Protect all of it’s Mangrove Forests

In a press recent press conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, U.S.-based NGO (nonprofit organization) Seacology; Sri Lanka-based NGO Sudeesa in colaboration with the government of Sri Lanka announced a joint program that will make Sri Lanka the first nation in the world to comprehensively protect all of its mangrove forests.

Mangroves of Sri Lanka
Mangroves of Sri Lanka. Photo credit: Teng Wei

Sri Lanka President Maithreepala Sirisena stated, “It is the responsibility and the necessity of all government institutions, private institutions, non government organizations, researchers, intelligentsia, and civil community to be united to protect the mangrove ecosystem. I highly appreciate and admire the joint effort made by the international non-governmental organizations Seacology and the Small Fishers Federation of Lanka to conserve the mangrove ecosystem of Sri Lanka.”

In Sri Lanka Mangroves have been identified as one of the most important coastal ecosystems. These mangroves consist of many types of salt tolerant plants that grow in inter-tidal zones near the coast. These plants are well adopted to the high salinity and low oxygen levels of the soils in these areas and play a major role in safeguarding the soil against the erosion and is habitat to many living organisms including plants and animals.

It is identified that Mangroves in Sri Lanka are composed of 20 species of true mangroves and 24 species of mangrove associates which is 1/3 of all mangrove species in world. The most extensive mangroves occur in the Puttalam – Kalpitiya area and the estuaries of the Eastern province.

According to Seacology the project will cost US$ 3.4 million over the next five years. Seacology has already raised approximately half of this amount. This project will protect all 21,782 acres (8,815 ha) of Sri Lanka’s existing mangrove forests by providing alternative job training and micro-loans to 15,000 impoverished women who live in 1,500 small communities adjacent to this nation’s mangrove forests. The project will also replant 9,600 acres (3,885 ha) of mangrove forests that have been cut down. In exchange for receiving these micro-loans to start up small businesses, all 1,500 communities will be responsible for protecting an average of 21 acres of mangrove forest. A first-of-its kind mangrove museum to educate the public about the importance of preserving this resource will also be constructed as part of this project.

signing agreement to protect all of Sri Lanka’s Mangroves
Eng. Nihal Rupasinghe, the Secretary, Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment of Sri Lanka and Duane Silverstein, the Executive Director of Seacology, exchanged the signed agreement to protect all of Sri Lanka’s Mangroves on 12th May 2015 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Photo credit: Sudeesa

The government of Sri Lanka, will play an important role in this effort by demarcating and gazetting mangrove forests, providing legal protection for all of Sri Lanka’s mangroves and providing rangers to patrol mangrove forests.

Sudeesa Chairman Anuradha Wickramasinghe, Seacology Executive Director Duane Silverstein, Douglas Tisera of the Sudeesa staff, and Seacology field representative Vineeta Hoon review Sri Lanka mangrove project plans.
Sudeesa Chairman Anuradha Wickramasinghe, Seacology Executive Director Duane Silverstein, Douglas Tisera of the Sudeesa staff, and Seacology field representative Vineeta Hoon review Sri Lanka mangrove project plans.

Speaking in the press Conference Anuradha Wickramasinghe, chairman of Sudeesa, stated, “We are thrilled to play a part in this groundbreaking effort that not only protects Sri Lanka’s mangrove forests but also helps some of Sri Lanka’s poorest citizens find sustainable livelihoods.”

Source :- Seacology