Last week marked the second anniversary of the launch of the Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Project, and the progress over the first two years of this landmark effort has exceeded our expectations. Tens of thousands of acres of existing mangrove forests are now legally protected, hundreds of thousands of mangrove seedlings have been grown and planted, and thousands of women have obtained job training and financing through Sudeesa, our Sri Lankan partner. The world’s first mangrove museum opened last summer and has become a popular destination for local students and others. And by winning nearly $1 million in the Global Resilience Partnership’s Water Window Challenge earlier this year, we’ve been able to expand the scope of the project beyond its already-ambitious goals.

The GRP funding allows us to, among other goals, build a new job-training and mangrove conservation center in Mannar District, in the country’s north, and this work has already begun. In a festive ceremony (photo above) featuring traditional dance, a marching band, and dozens of beneficiaries of Sudeesa’s work, ground was broken at the site where this new center will stand in a few months. The facility will enable Sudeesa to serve thousands of additional women in Sri Lankan communities disproportionately affected by the country’s long civil war.

The Sri Lankan government has taken notice of the project’s historic significance and recently recognized the Seacology-Sudeesa Mangrove Museum with a limited-edition commemorative envelope and postage stamp. Emblazoned with the words “Sri Lanka: The Land of Eternal Mangroves,” the colorful envelope features photos of the museum and inscriptions in Sinhalese, Tamil, and English. We’re very grateful for this recognition of Seacology’s largest project ever, and the extra public attention it offers in Sri Lanka.

The first two years of the project established the foundations of this comprehensive conservation scheme, but we still have much to do in the remaining three. The bulk of the Seacology-funded job training work still lies ahead of us, and there are many areas left to replant. We continue to form new partnerships with local governments and community groups to ensure the progress we’ve made in defending Sri Lanka’s existing mangroves. We’re confident that as this work continues we’ll have many more success stories to share in the coming months and years.

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