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A year of historic conservation for Sri Lanka’s mangroves

May 12, 2016

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year, but today marks the first anniversary of the largest and most ambitious project in Seacology’s history. On May 12, 2015, Executive Director Duane Silverstein, and leaders in Sri Lanka’s government and local NGO Sudeesa signed the agreement that established the island nation’s place in history as the first country to protect all of its mangrove forests. In the year since, major progress toward this goal has been made. Over the past couple of months, three of our staff have visited Sri Lanka to assess the progress and reported that:

  • The Sri Lankan government has fulfilled its commitment to demarcate the nation’s intact mangrove habitats. In surveys conducted over the first few months of the project, the total area of healthy forest was determined to be a whopping 21,782 acres, which are now legally protected.
  • Three large mangrove nurseries have been established to raise seedlings for the reforestation effort. Thousands have already been planted along the island’s coastline by project participants, volunteers, and members of the Sri Lankan navy.
  • Hundreds of women have received training in sustainable skills and loans to start new businesses through our expansion of Sudeesa’s microfinance program.
  • We’re nearing completion of the Seacology-Sudeesa Mangrove Museum, the first facility of its kind in the world.
  • Through our amazing community of Seacology Fellows, Board Members and other supporters, we’ve raised $3.4 million toward the effort, the project’s original budget. In a setback we can hardly complain about, the mangrove museum at Pambala has attracted more interest from school groups than we expected, and we’ve decided to expand the facility to accommodate them.

We are now only about $60,000 from our funding goal for the entire multimillion-dollar program, and have launched a special campaign to finish the work on the museum. You can easily make a contribution via our website or by calling 510-559-3505. All donors who contribute $500 or more by June 30 will be honored on a plaque to be unveiled at the opening ceremony for the museum on July 26, International Mangrove Day.

We invite you to look back on a year of progress in this historic effort at here.