Following a successful colloquium on mangrove rehabilitation efforts In Sri Lanka held in Colombo on 6 November 2009, a satellite colloquium on mangrove rehabilitation efforts in Eastern Sri Lanka was held on 24 November, 2009 in Batticaloa.
The main objectives of the colloquium was to provide a critical analysis of the benefits of the mangrove replantation initiatives undertaken in the Eastern Province and to seek best practices in mangrove rehabilitation, considering the ground experiences from various mangrove planting initiatives, and scientific and geo-morphological aspects.
In his opening remarks, Dr Ranjith Mahindapala, Country Representative, IUCN stated that as mangrove restoration is being undertaken by a number of agencies, the colloquium was a forum to address and critique on the field experiences with due consideration to various scientific aspects with the participation of concerned scientists, practitioners, policy makers, stakeholder agencies etc. After the tsunami of 2004, there has been a significant effort in the Eastern Province on mangrove rehabilitation and planting, and the main objectives of the colloquium was to provide a critical analysis of the benefits of the mangrove replantation initiatives undertaken in the Eastern Province and to seek best practices in mangrove rehabilitation, considering the ground experiences from various mangrove planting initiatives, and scientific and geo-morphological aspects.
The event was graced by the Mayor of Batticaloa, Mrs S Prabaharan and the Government Agent/District Secretary, Batticaloa, Mr Suntharam Arumainayaham. They both spoke on the need to conserve ecosystems for the greater benefit of the people who normally depend on the resources associated with the mangroves. The mayor noted the significance of mangroves in the EasternProvince, and in particular in the Batticaloa lagoon, and requested all concerned to manage these in a scientific manner so that the future generations will be able to reap the benefits. Conservation and management were very important when one considers the climate change aspects. The District Secretary particularly emphasised the need for due consideration to ecosystem management, given the rapid development that is taking place in the EasternProvince.
The event which was attended by 53 participants, also included the Deputy Conservator of Forests, several Divisional Forest Officers, Scientists and researchers, practitioners, policy makers, representatives from stakeholder agencies and the local media. The noticeable feature was the attendance of a Senior Citizen from Batticaloa, Mr Prince Casinader, ex Member of Parliament, who reminisced about the Batticaloa lagoon, its aesthetic value, and its contribution to the society in general. Aside from its productivity and sustaining the communities, the Batticaloa lagoon provided a cultural and societal contribution, and the legendary singing fish was well known world over.
The colloquium was a rare opportunity to share experiences and examine the scientific basis for restoring mangrove ecosystems. The recommendations from the colloquium will be made available later on.