Commonwealth Secretary General Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland made a brief visit to a mangrove replanting site in Wadduwa in Koggala recently, in appreciation of the contribution Sri Lanka has made to improve its mangroves, which not only benefits Sri Lankans, but the world, in terms of increasing the carbon sequestration, which is 2 – 4 times more than tropical forests.
Sri Lanka spearheads the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Group on Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods (MELAG) under the Commonwealth Blue Charter, calling for fair, equitable, inclusive and sustainable approach to ocean economic development and protection. Accordingly, Sri Lanka hosted the first meeting of the MELAG in early October this year, activities of which included developing a database of mangrove ecosystems, sharing technical expertise on mangrove restoration, and strengthening community partnerships and legal frameworks. This Action Group is not limited to Commonwealth countries, but to other countries, private sector and Community-based Organizations (CBOs) and research community all interested in mangrove ecosystems and livelihoods.
The first meeting of MELAG brought together experts from 09 member countries including from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Australia, as well as government and academic experts, private sector involved in mangrove restoration and CBOs from Sri Lanka, which is considered as a pioneering model of engagement across Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Groups, covering areas such as Oceans and Climate Change, Sustainable Aquaculture, Restoration of Coral Reefs, Ocean Observations, Marine Protected Areas, Ocean Acidification, Blue Economy, Clean Ocean Alliance which addresses plastic pollution in the oceans.
in August 2018, during a visit to Sri Lanka, the Secretary General planted a mangrove sapling of the species Ceriops decandra in Chilaw – Pambala Lagoon, a site managed by the Sudeesa, a local CBO working closely with the Forest Department.
As Mangrove ecosystems are one of the world’s most threatened tropical ecosystems and considering the contribution of mangrove ecosystems for carbon off-setting, commemorating the World Environment Day on 05th June 2019, INSEE Cement pledged to conserve mangrove habitat in the Koggala lagoon, which is close to INSEE Cement’s plants in Galle, Southern Province. In the Koggala lagoon there are 10 mangrove species out of 22 true mangrove species found in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has 1/3 of world’s mangrove species.
The field visit included a visit to the mangrove sapling nursery and information centre of the local Community – based Organizations (CBO) and included the planting of a mangrove sapling of the species “Rhizphora mucronata (Maha Kadol).
The visit endorses the work Sri Lanka has been doing on the ground; Sri Lanka pledged to champion the MELAG at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in London in April 2018, including the development of a national policy, guidelines and declaration of fourteen thousand (14,000) hectares of land for mangrove rehabilitation/restoration, as well as setting up an experts group and a task force on mangroves.
The Commonwealth Secretary General was accompanied by her Chief of Staff, Senior Communications Officer, Senior Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Mahaweli Development & Environment and INSEE Cement Sri Lanka’s Company Communications and Reputation Manager.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
11 November 2019