Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL) has kicked off efforts to restore mangroves by formally launching collaboration amongst businesses and government.
The objective of the sustainability focused organization initiated by Dilmah Tea, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, is to restore up to 25 acres of degraded mangrove forest patches in the Anawilundawa Wetland Sanctuary.
The initiative in linked to the critical importance of restoring degraded wetlands, to harness the social, environmental and economic benefits of mangroves, through the ‘Life to Our Mangroves’ project.
The project partners, all members of BSL will fund the restoration effort over 5 years, whilst guidance and leadership will be provided by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. BSL will obtain further technical support from the Wayamba University.
BSL’s landmark multi-partner public private partnership project ‘LIFE’ which recently completed four years of progress in restoring 12 hectares of degraded fern land located in Opatha, within the Kanneliya Conservation Forest is the inspiration for this unique yet timely project.
Anawilundawa Wetland Sanctuary is one of only six RAMSAR wetlands in the country, located along the coastal belt between Chilaw and Puttalam cities. Comprising varying forest wetland ecosystems including coastal saltwater ecosystems, and freshwater lakes, the Sanctuary has international significance and also features mangroves.
The restoration of the degraded site will incorporate input from all stakeholders to maximise social, environmental and economic impact. The restoration will be managed with the framework of IUCN’s Global Nature-based Solutions Standard. With baseline monitoring conducted by the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Life to Our Mangroves is likely to be a successful public-private partnership with benefits to the community and environment in the area.
The commitment was formalized at a ceremony held in the garden of the Dilmah head office just outside Colombo. Together with the Chairperson of BSL’s Board of Directors, Dilhan C. Fernando, Heads and representatives of the other collaborating private companies, Citizens Development Business Finance PLC, Dole Lanka Pvt Ltd, Dynawash Ltd, Eswaran Brothers Exports (Pvt) Ltd, National Development Bank PLC, joined the Biodiversity Sri Lanka team at the event.Biodiversity Sri Lanka originated in 2012 as the Business & Biodiversity Platform, to encourage and inspire business in conservation and restoration. BSL initiated ‘Life to Our Mangroves’ to demonstrate the value of mangrove restoration as a Nature-based Solution (NbS) with the power to address climate change, and socio-economic development challenges – mangroves are ten times more powerful than terrestrial forests in absorbing carbon. The project adds livelihood benefits to the communities in and around the site and offers businesses an opportunity to offset their carbon footprint while paving the way for a blue carbon future in Sri Lanka.