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Sri Lanka wetlands seen critical for megapolis plan

By Rohan Gunasekera

Mar 25, 2016 11:07 AM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)


ECONOMYNEXT – Protecting wetlands in and around the Sri Lankan capital Colombo is critical for the success of the planned western region megapolis urban agglomeration where over eight million people will live, an international expert said.

The wetlands provide many services to the city such as helping prevent flooding and moderating temperatures, said Matthew Simpson, an international wetland scientist from the United Kingdom.

Tougher regulations and better enforcement will be needed to protect the wetlands in the face of increasing threats like infilling and pollution, he told a forum that discussed a new wetlands management strategy.

“Now we have got a wetlands management strategy we need to link it to the ‘Western Region Megapolis’ development,” he told the forum organised by the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development.

The wetlands management strategy was developed with help from Signes, a French urban design company, and funding by the World Bank.

With the Colombo megapolis region expected to house more than eight million people, protecting remaining wetlands from further degradation is critical to ensure their wellbeing.

Simpson said the wetlands should be considered as one zone, not multiple zones, although they are scattered throughout the city and its environs.
“So legal protection is required. The wetlands management strategy needs to be integrated into the megapolis plan,” he said.

Creating opportunities for public-private co-management is very important, such as working with farmers growing paddy in the upper catchment in managing floods.

According to the Wetland Management Strategy, its success “will depend on full integration with the ‘megapolis’ project.”

“The wise use of wetlands is fundamental to achieving the sustainable urban outcomes promulgated in the Megapolis Development Plan,” it says.

“Early engagement and meeting with the proponents of the ‘megapolis’ project is crucial if the long‐term future of wetlands in the Colombo area is to be secured.”

The strategy said that harmonisation of legal frameworks is essential with the expected establishment of a Megapolis Authority under an act of parliament, updating of the National Environmental Act and proposed changes to the National Wetland Policy.
(COLOMBO, March 25, 2016)


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