The National Strategy and Action Plan (NSAP) for an Ecosystem-based Integrated Coastal Management in Sri Lanka, prepared under the Mangroves for the Future Programme, was presented to the Hon. Patalie Champika Ranawaka, M P, Minister of Environment & Natural Resources
on 16 February, 2010 at the Ministry by Dr Donald Macintosh, Coordinator, Mangroves for the Future Programme (MFF), Ms Padmini Batuwitage, Additional Secretary of the Ministry and the Chair of the National Steering Committee of MFF, and Dr Ranjith Mahindapala, Country Representative, IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature, Sri Lanka Office. Also associated at this presentation were Mr W A D A Wijesuriya, Director General of Wildlife and Member of the National Steering Committee of MFF and Dr J I Samarakoon, Compiler of the National Strategy and Member of the National Steering Committee of MFF. A copy of the National Strategy was also presented to Mr M A R D Jayatilleke, Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources.
Mangroves for the Future programme is a partnership led initiative aimed at promoting investments and action in ecosystem conservation for sustainable coastal development. The initiative seeks to ensure ‘a healthier, more prosperous and secure future for all Indian Ocean coastal communities’ and takes a long-term view which addresses the continuing challenges to coastal ecosystems and livelihoods.
In Sri Lanka, the destructive tsunami waves of 26 December, 2004 killed around 40,000 people, displaced nearly half a million people and caused enormous environmental damage to much of the country's coastline, excluding the north-western coastal area. A large area of natural ecosystems including coastal vegetations, mangroves, sand dunes and lagoons had been severely damaged. These valuable ecosystems have been known for their significant ecosystem services, crucial for the long term livelihood security of communities. MFF introduces a new paradigm for conservation of coastal zones by positioning ecosystems and the services they provide as a vital part of coastal development infrastructure. It addresses a number of areas, including unsustainable development processes, poor coordination and conflicting interests in coastal management between sectors, weak governance at the national level, inadequate regional collaboration in environmental matters, and gaps in capacity, knowledge and empowerment among coastal ecosystem managers and users.
The NSAP, prepared with the involvement of the relevant Government Agencies and other stakeholders, highlights the fact that Sri Lanka’s coastal ecosystems are relatively small in size in their micro-tidal setting resulting in low carrying capacity and low resilience. The coastal ecosystems are distributed in association with the 103 rivers which influence their structure and functioning. The NSAP drew on the vast experiences in the country, primarily of the Coast Conservation Department and secondarily of the Central Environmental Authority, and seeks to support inter-sectoral mechanisms for integrated coastal zone management. It also complements the existing national policies.
It is hoped that the NSAP will serve as a valuable reference document to support future planning on integrated ecosystem approach.