Replanting mangroves in the Dutch Canal , Sri Lanka © RMahindapala , 2009
This project had four main objectives:
The Dutch Canal was constructed during the time of Dutch control over the maritime districts of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). Once a popular supply route linking Colombo with Puttalam, this 100-km canal is still an important source of water for communities on Sri Lanka’s north-west coast from Negombo to Puttalam lagoon. The Canal and the areas around Puttalam lagoon have played an important historical, economic and ecological role in the development of Sri Lanka’s fisheries industry. In recent times, however, the mangroves lining the Canal’s banks have been cleared illegally to set up prawn farms.
The consequences of this loss and degradation of forests have included the reduction of finfish and crustacean catches, a decline in biodiversity, irregular water flows, and the drying up of natural springs. Sri Lanka’s National Aquaculture Development Authority (NAQDA) obtained a small grant from MFF to restore a section of the degraded mangrove area along the Canal.
As part of the rehabilitation of the prawn aquaculture industry in Puttalam, NAQDA has been implementing a programme to dredge the Dutch Canal, the main source of water for local prawn farmers, to improve its flow. Its long-term objective, to which this project contributed, is to improve the water quality of the canal ecosystem and its associated fish breeding grounds, and so improve the income of the local fishing community.
The fishing community and water users along the Dutch Canal in Puttalam district.
The project increased community awareness of the importance of mangroves and the efforts to restore and enhance the canal ecosystem. A total of 11,080 mangrove plants were planted, and by the end of 2009 overall survival rates were around 80%. Most seedlings were planted only in November 2009, however. It is hoped that the establishment of a demonstration plot, the awareness programmes organised for schoolchildren, and the involvement of the community in project activities, will motivate beneficiaries to protect the replanted areas.
One problem encountered was that the planting site at Pulidvayal had to be rejected because of social conflict, forcing the project to move to another location. Also, replanting at the site in Viruthodei was interrupted by flooding.
Gender: Both men and women took part in planting activities. Both male and female students participated in awareness programmes.
The project learned important lessons about planting mangroves. One is that good quality seedlings are scarce. Another is that the timing of seed availability should be considered when planning project activities. Also, for the best results, Rhizophora spp. should be planted at a spacing of one metre; Avicennia marina at 50 cm.
The time allocated by the project for replanting was inadequate for monitoring of results. Follow-up activities will be carried out by NAQDA prawn farm monitoring units, together with farmers.
Puttalam, Sri Lanka
1st Mar 2009 to 30th Nov 2009
National Aquaculture Development Authority (NAQDA)
758 Baseline Road, Dematagoda, Colombo 9, Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 11 4721676