ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has hosted a meeting of Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihood Action Group (MELAG) of the British Commonwealth to share best practices in conservation and restoration, develop legal frameworks and strengthen community participation.
Sri Lanka is one of 12 countries that stepped forward to lead nine ‘Action Groups’ under the Blue Charter – a commitment made by the 53 Commonwealth member states to work together to solve ocean-related problems.
“We are entering an era where the very survival of humanity depends on our action,” Sri Lanka’s acting secretary of foreign affairs Ahmed A Jawad has said at the first MELAG meeting in Negombo, a coastal city on the island’s west coast.
“By taking steps to uphold the spirit of the Commonwealth Blue Charter, by ensuring that the Commonwealth takes a fair, equitable, inclusive and sustainable approach to ocean economic development and protection, we can derive greater benefits for the welfare of our people and future generations.”
More than a third of the world’s mangrove forests have disappeared in the last two decades, the statement said.
Mangroves absorbs atmospheric carbn, provides a habitat for many species of plants and animals, nursery grounds for many fauna, including species important for fisheries and it prevents coastal erosion.
In Sri Lanka mangrove tracts were also found to be a buffer against tsunamis.
Sri Lankan private sector firms and charities engaged in mangrove conservation had also shared their experience.
Terms of Reference was finalized and information collected for a draft action plan.
Adviser for Commonwealth Blue Charter of the Commonwealth Secretariat Heidi Prislan, Principal Research Scientist of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia Mat Vanderklift and Director General, Ocean Affairs, Environment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake, as well as Sri Lanka experts on mangrove conservation from the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment and Sri Lanka academics had contributed.