In December 2019, SLYCAN Trust in collaboration with the Coast Conservation Department of Sri Lanka, Kite Surfing Lanka, students of University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka Navy, and Mitsubishi Corporation in Sri Lanka restored 1,500 mangroves in Kalpitiya. In just over a month the plants have grown successfully, except for few plants that did not make it through due to the heat and other shortcomings that took place when restoring.
Activities conducted in Kalpitiya as part of SLYCAN Trust’s Blue Green Protectors Initiative aim to restore mangroves in the area, address adverse effects of climate change, as well as economic development of the communities dependent on the mangrove ecosystems. The project aims to capacity build communities to restore mangrove ecosystems, as well as introduce economic diversification and livelihood opportunities. To this end, the project activities seek multi-stakeholder partnerships among government entities, private sector, community, youth and other relevant actors of the area.
“The project aims to identify suitable livelihood and economic activities connected to mangrove ecosystems, which could be enhanced with the aim of empowering the community. Among some of the activities identified are eco-tourism and livelihood development connected to it, and setting up community-run mangrove nurseries,” said Ms. Vositha Wijenayake, Executive Director of SLYCAN Trust.
“We are working with Marine Environment Protection Authority and other key stakeholders to identify suitable livelihood and economic development activities linked to mangrove ecosystems in Gamapaha district as part of our mangrove restoration activities. We hope to introduce a similar multi-stakeholder driven process for Kalpitiya as well,” she added.
During our last monitoring to the site, last week of January 2020, we spoke to the proprietor of Kite Surfing Lanka Dilsiri Welikala who explained that the community in Kalpitiya, over the years has become very conscious of the environment and since the beginning, being very positive and welcoming towards any initiative that would protect their land and waters.
He further shared that hoteliers in the area are very keen on ensuring that Kalpitiya does not fall into the trap of ‘over-tourism’ and wants to ensure that the growth in tourism to the area is sustainable. As a result of this line of thinking, Kalpitiya has also been able to attract tourists who are environmentally-conscious as well as keen on making sustainability as part of their lifestyle.
“The restoration of mangroves in Kalpitiya not only becomes important towards the protection of the environment and coastline, but also a business opportunity, thereby making it a win-win for the hoteliers as well,” says Welikala. The hoteliers in the area are also looking into further expanding the education aspect of these mangroves and environment to schools in the area and even create newer employment opportunities .
In the next six months,, SLYCAN Trust aims to expand the project activities in Kalpitiya, which includes setting up a mangrove nursery with the community engagement, capacity building of community on mangrove ecosystems linked livelihood and economic activities, and promoting sustainable eco-tourism in the area with the support of key stakeholders in the Kalpitiya area.
Since 2016 SLYCAN is a registered legal entity in the form of a Trust, and work under the title of SLYCAN Trust, expanding the issues of focus, and widening the scope of focus from youth centric to a multi-stakeholder driven, and social justice driven process. SLYCAN Trust envisions wider engagement and a wider range of activities on the themes of sustainable development, climate change, gender and animal welfare, and social justice to ensure that we strive for a better future for all.