PAMBALA, Sri Lanka, July 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — July 26, 2016, World Mangrove Day: A year into a groundbreaking program to protect all mangrove forests in Sri Lanka by enlisting the help of coastal communities, the news is good. The forests are being protected, and some of the poorest women in Sri Lanka are receiving microloans and job training.
The world’s first mangrove museum will be officially opened by Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena on World Mangrove Day, July 26. The museum will offer conservation training and expects to welcome more than 20,000 schoolchildren in its first year.
Sri Lanka is the first country in the world to protect all of its mangrove forests. And as these forests, which sequester much more carbon than other types of forests, emerge as a key weapon in the fight against climate change, the program is poised to become a model for other countries.
The need to protect mangroves is urgent. In the last 50 years, over half the world’s mangrove forests have been destroyed. Almost three quarters of Sri Lanka’s mangrove forests have been lost, largely due to the devastating Civil War (1983-2009) and to the cutting of trees for fuel or development.
Launched in May 2015, this project was the brainchild of a small NGO halfway across the world near San Francisco: island conservation organization Seacology, which raised $3.4 million for the five-year effort. Partnering with the Sri Lankan government and local NGO Sudeesa, it’s already seen significant results:
Over the next four years, Sudeesa will train another 6,925 women and 7,152 youths, and offer 14,619 more microloans to meet the target of providing job training and microloans to 15,000 women and youths in 1,500 communities.