The Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Project was the largest and most far-reaching initiative in Seacology’s history. The project protected all 21,782 acres (8,815 hectares) of Sri Lanka’s existing mangrove forests by providing alternative job training and microloans to approximately 12,000 impoverished women who live in 1,500 small communities adjacent to the nation’s mangrove forests. The project also replanted 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 were 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 and a large training and community center in the country’s formerly war-torn north was also built.
Seacology harnessed local NGO 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 offered 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, we reached that original fundraising goal. A grant from the Global Resilience Partnership allowed us to expand the scope of our work in Sri Lanka and raise the budget to over $4 million.