World Mangrove Day has been celebrated in style in Sri Lanka with the opening of the world’s first mangrove museum in Pabbala, Chilaw last week. Like coral reefs, mangrove forests are extremely productive ecosystems that provide numerous good and services both to the marine environment and people.
The launch took place on the first anniversary of a national project aimed at protecting the nation’s mangrove forests, which are seen as a vital resource for mitigating the effects of climate change. According to the organisation Seacology, which pioneered the Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Project, mangrove forests can sequester up to five times more carbon than any other kind of forest, as well as providing an essential nursery habitat for many of the fish species that Sri Lankan fishermen depend on.
What are Mangroves? – Mangroves are shrubs or small trees that grow in coastal saline or brackish water. The term is also used for tropical coastal vegetation consisting of such species.
Mangrove forests also have the ability to absorb up to 90% of the energy from ordinary ocean waves and thus protect us from any disasters.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said mangrove forests are important in the fight against climate change due to mangroves’ ability to absorb carbon.
The new mangrove museum will be used as an educational tool for Sri Lankan school children, with 20,000 pupils estimated to visit in its first year. The hope is that valuing Sri Lanka’s mangrove forests will become hard-wired into the culture of the next generation of Sri Lankans to help preserve the country’s coastal forests for posterity.