Sri Lanka is home to twenty one species of true mangroves, around one third of all mangrove species in the world. As chair of the Commonwealth Blue Charter Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihood Action Group and through its National Mangrove Policy, the government has pledged to restore an additional 10,000 hectares of mangroves by 2030, which aligns as well with the national target of increasing the total forest cover to mitigate climate change. In addition, by providing the above-mentioned services and potential sources of livelihoods, for example in fisheries, wetland handicraft, or ecotourism, they are extremely cost-effective nature-based solutions. They can facilitate adaptation to the impacts of climate change and enhance the sustainable development of coastal areas in Sri Lanka.
However, Sri Lanka has lost tens of thousands of hectares of mangroves over the previous decades. Mangrove have been destroyed and degraded around the island for human settlements, industry, agriculture, and infrastructure, and suffers impacts from pollution, industrial waste, or altered hydrology. Additionally, mangroves are also threatened by climate change through sea level rise, increasing temperatures, coastal erosion, storm surges, and extreme weather events.
To benefit from healthy mangrove ecosystems and address these negative impacts, it is crucial to conserve, rehabilitate, and restore mangroves across Sri Lanka. Multi-actor partnerships between government and non-government actors, participation and ownership of local communities, livelihood development, and technical expertise are all crucial components for the success of this endeavor and the sustainable long-term conservation of mangrove ecosystems.
A project supported by Mitsubishi Corporation.
Implementing partners for the project include the Marine Environment Protection Authority, Wattala Pradeshiya Sabha, Department of Coast Conservation & Coastal Resource Management.