Sri Lanka conservationists in push to restore mangrove eco-system

May 29, 2010 (LBO) – Large swathes of abandoned shrimp farms in a coastal lagoon in Sri Lanka’s western coast could be returned to its former glory as a mangrove eco-systems if an ambitious plan by a conservation charity succeeds, officials said. “When people realized that this is a profitable activity they started, looking for a land and they encroached that any land was suitable.”

“Then they started to cutting down any sort of coastal vegetation.”

Sri Lanka has 22 different ‘true’ mangroves species and several associated plants.

Shrimp farms not only destroy mangroves, but nutrient rich waste that is pumped out promote the growth of algae which block sunlight degrading more of the coastal eco-system and breeding zones of fish and crustaceans.

Eventually it leads to a collapse in fisheries in the broader eco-system. The Puttalam and Mundalam lagoons are some of the most hit by commercial shrimp farming.

Court Backing

The IUCN says it got an order from Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court to back it in efforts to restore destroyed mangrove wetland.

“But logistically we need a free access for these farms,” says Ranjith Mahindapala, country Representative of IUCN said.

The land, which has been leased by the