IUCN Sri Lanka Office has been implementing several coastal zone management related projects in and around the Puttalam lagoon during the past few years.
The activities implemented include biodiversity and socio-economic assessments as a prelude to formulating a lagoon management plan, ecosystem restoration including mangrove replanting, provision of alternative livelihoods for fisher families, awareness raising, and introducing measures to reduce pressures on the lagoon, such as providing facilities for solid waste management, and Infrastructure development for sustainable fishing. Another important component undertaken is the capacity building of state institutions mandated for managing the lagoon resources.
In order to facilitate the media to get first hand information on some of the outputs of these initiatives, an excursion to the Puttalam lagoon area was arranged on 7 May, 2010. Seven print and electronic media agencies including the national TV channel participated. The participants were briefed on the importance of mangroves at the Mangrove Information Centre of the Small Fishers Federation at Pambala where they also had the opportunity to see some rare mangrove species such as Lumnitzera littorea and Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea.
In Palavi, they witnessed the destruction of coastal ecosystem due to indiscriminate construction of salt pans and shrimp ponds. The team then visited the livelihood activities that were introduced to reduce lagoon pressure. These included home garden cultivation of Aloe vera (medicinal aloe) at Anawasala, back yard poultry at Sothupitiyawadiya and home gardening and crab fattening projects in Thirrikkapallama.
The boat ride in the lagoon enabled them to see some healthy mangrove stands and newly replanted mangroves to restore those that were destroyed.