Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Project
Seacology, in collaboration with Sri Lanka-based NGO Sudeesa (formerly known as Small Fishers Federation of Lanka), is working to make Sri Lanka the world’s first nation to comprehensively protect all of its mangrove forests.
The Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Project is the largest and perhaps most far-reaching single initiative in Seacology’s 24-year history. The project will protect all 21,782 acres (8,815 hectares) of Sri Lanka’s existing mangrove forests by providing alternative job training and microloans to 15,000 impoverished women who live in 1,500 small communities adjacent to the nation’s mangrove forests. The project will also replant 9,600 acres (3,885 hectares) of mangrove forests that have been cut down, using seedlings raised in three Seacology-funded mangrove nurseries. In exchange for receiving microloans to start 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.
Seacology is harnessing Sudeesa’s experience in implementing job-training and microfinance programs, fields in which Sudeesa has been a leader for more than 15 years. This partnership will give many more impoverished Sri Lankans alternative ways to earn a living that do not entail cutting down mangroves.
The project was launched with a budget of US$3.4 million over five years. Thanks in part to a generous match by Board of Directors member Peter Read and a recent campaign, we have reached our original fundraising goal. The selection of the project for a grant by the Global Resilience Partnership allowed us to expand the scope of our work in Sri Lanka and raise the budget to over $4 million.
These resilient trees, which take root in the mud below shallow water, provide shelter from predators for the young of many reef fish species, replenishing fisheries and supporting the livelihoods of those who depend on them. They dissipate the force of tropical storms and reduce damage to coastal communities. And perhaps most important, mangroves sequester up to 50 times more carbon than other ecosystems, playing a key role in efforts to mitigate climate change.
Beneficiaries of Sudeesa microloans and skills training
Jospin Kristina Kumari lives in Samidigama Village, in the Puttlam District of Sri Lanka. She was living in poverty with four children, a sick husband, and no regular source of income. She joined Sudeesa and received training on running a bakery. Jospin was able to get a small business loan to set up a bakery of her own and now employs three other members of the community. In the future, she hopes to expand her bakery’s product line. She is a member of her village organization that protects local mangrove forests.
Ivon Sama Perera, 55, lives in Vannimundalama, Puttalam district in a family of three. She was born in a fishing family in Bathalangunduwa, an area affected by the war, and had to flee to Wannimundalama with her husband, leaving their fishing gear behind.
This meant losing their income from fishing; her husband also fell ill and was unable to work, and Sama took on the responsibility of supporting the family. She fishes, prepares and sells snacks and breakfasts, and processes dry fish and dries kajan leaves (from coconut trees), used to roof huts.
She started production of snack foods with a 10,000-rupee microloan after receiving training from the Seacology – Sudeesa Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Program. She is happy with the additional income. “What is most important to me from the training provided is the knowledge that I acquired on business management, and inculcating a culture for saving money for the future,” she says.
Thavanesan Rageshwary, 54, ran a small retail shop at Vidathaltheevu in Mannar district before joining the Seacology-Sudeesa Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Program. After attending a three-day training, she obtained a 10,000-rupee (about US $70) microloan and expanded her business, adding food items. She now earns an additional 5000 rupees per month and intends to expand her business again using her new management skills.
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Video project updates from Sudeesa
- March 2017
- The project has been named a winner of the Global Resilience...
- July 2016
- Seacology and Sudeesa celebrated World Mangrove Day by officially opening the Mangrove Museum. President Maithripala Sirisena was on hand for a ribbon-cutting as guests, including Seacology...
- July 2016
- The Seacology-Sudeesa Mangrove Museum is almost finished, and ready for its official opening on World Mangrove Day, July 26!
- June 2016
- So far, 283 community-based organizations have been formed so that their members can receive sustainable livelihood training. Almost 500 women have attended three-day training programs on...
- May 2016
- Construction of the Seacology-Sudeesa Mangrove Museum is progressing as scheduled. Contractors have begun installing the displays. The museum is scheduled to open on World Mangrove Day, July 26,...
- April 2016
- Three mangrove nurseries, in Pambala, Kalipitiya
and Mundalama, are operational, and a total of 161,250 mangrove seedlings have been propagated. Over the next two years, this total will reach...
- March 2016
- Seacology Board member Peter Read generously offered to match donations to the project, bringing us within $60,000 of the project's fundraising goal.
- February 2, 2016
- The president of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, spoke and planted a mangrove seedling at Sudeesa's headquarters in observation of World Wetlands Day.
- January 25, 2016
- The demarcation of Sri Lanka's mangroves has been completed, with the nation's Forest Department confirming Sri Lanka has about 37,000 acres of intact habitat and 9,600 of deforested area. Three...
- May 12, 2015
- We have now officially launched the project, and Executive Director Duane Silverstein signed a formal agreement with the leadership of Sudeesa and the Sri Lankan government.