Mangrove species composition, diversity and related fishery in lagoon/estuarine systems in Pottuvil- Panama coastal stretch in the east coast of Sri Lanka

Studying distribution of seagrass

Studying distribution of seagrass , Eluwankulam, Puttalam © kumudini Ekaratne, IUCN, 2012


  • Surveying mangrove vegetation in three lagoon systems in the east coast of Sri Lanka to gather information about species composition and the relative density of key mangrove species;
  • Surveying the use, by fishing communities in bordering villages, of three lagoon ecosystems in the area, and to identify the threats to the lagoon system.


There has been a 30-year gap in scientific studies carried out in the north and east of Sri Lanka because of the civil unrest. Information on ecosystems of the area is outdated, unpublished, or not readily available. After the cessation of these conflicts, there has been an intense thrust to develop the area, and there is now a great demand for land, particularly for tourism. Areas are being cleared rapidly of vegetation for development.

There is, therefore, an urgent need to survey the biological diversity in these areas to gather up-to-date information on species of flora and fauna, in order to improve the available knowledge base. This will allow for informed decision-making, and the development of knowledge-based conservation strategies for this rapidly developing area.


The mangrove survey was carried out using a belt transect method. Each transect was 5 m in width and extended up to the landward margin of the mangrove from the water’s edge. Mangrove vegetation in 268 transects has been sampled (207 in Panama, 22 in Helawa, and 39 in Okanda).

The fishery survey was carried out by observing and analysing catches made by fishermen.

Target beneficiaries

Scientists and stakeholder organizations which are responsible for management of Puttalam lagoon and its environs.


 Survey reports and mangrove distribution maps.

Accomplishments and challenges

Research findings have been shared with the Forest Department for onward action.

Contributions to cross-cutting themes

Knowledge generated have been widely shared.

Lessons Learned

  • Improving the knowledge base always helps in improving management. 
  • mangrove areas will be cleared for development. Boundaries of mangroves areas in this region must be demarcated clearly.

Project Facts



Panama, Pottuvil



1st May 2011 to 30th Apr 2012

MFF Grant Amount

LKR 446,900.00

Implementing Partner

Prof. K B Ranawana
Head, Dept of Zoology,
Faculty of Science, University of Peradeniya
Tel: + 94 82-1394470

Related Images

  • Seagrass survey in Puttalam lagoon

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