Since 2020, the LEF has been working in collaboration under the Mangrove Conservation & Sustainable Livelihoods (MCSL) Forum with several local conservation organizations including the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS), Environmental Foundation (EFL), Federation of Environmental Organizations (FEO), Pearl Protectors and the Parrotfish Collective to ensure the continued protection of the Vidattaltivu Nature Reserve (VNR).
Declared as the island’s third largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the island, this ecosystem is home to a myriad of flora and fauna, including the locally critically endangered dugong. Located along the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka, VNR is a critical stop along the Central Asian Flyway, thereby making it an ecosystem of global importance to migratory bird species.
Despite its protected status, several government agencies have been working to de-gazette a portion of VNR in order to create an aquaculture park which will farm shellfish, exotic fish and shrimp. With several failed aquaculture ventures dotted along the northwestern coast, the MCSL Forum seeks to stop the de-gazette and ensure VNR’s protected status remains.
As part of our work with the coalition, LEF has been involved in the production of an awareness video about the environmental benefits of VNR, facilitating workshops, participating in planning sessions and handled the rollout of a public awareness campaign in 2020. The LEF has also participated in the Department of Wildlife Conservation’s (DWC) process of developing a management plan for VNR. Currently, the LEF co-chairs the MCSL Forum which meets weekly to discuss the best course of action in ensuring the continued protection of this Nature Reserve.
The LEF has been actively promoting the adoption of nature based solutions such as the establishment of blue carbon credit programmes within this area and as a first step has funded the VNR Seagrass Assessment which will take stock of the carbon stocks and seagrass species located within VNR.