Sri Lanka's mangrove forest restoration: a global inspiration

Sri Lanka's mangrove forest restoration: a global inspiration

By Ashmeeta Subra  June 6th, 2024

Sri Lanka's mangrove restoration initiative has been named a World Restoration Flagship by the United Nations (UN), providing a potential blueprint for other environmental challenges around the world.


Among the natural wonders of Sri Lanka are tough and unique mangrove environments that provide critical ecosystem services. These trees act as a first line of defence for many coastlines, reducing erosion caused by storm surges, currents, waves and tides.  

Following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and following tsunami, Sri Lanka experienced significant mangrove forest loss, impacting biodiversity and leaving communities vulnerable to extreme weather occurrences. In response to this, the country initiated a nation-wide effort to replant mangroves and revitalise coastlines.  

However, due to low mangrove survival rates, they shifted their approach to nurture existing mangrove ecosystems, creating the right conditions for them to regenerate naturally. In 2015, Sri Lanka made history by becoming the first country worldwide to legally protect all remaining mangrove forests. Supported by global partners including the Australian and UK governments, the initiative has since helped them achieve 500 hectares of newly restored mangroves.  

Top view of mangrove plants growing (Image: Todd Brown/UNEP)

Top view of mangrove plants growing (Image: Todd Brown/UNEP)

“Mangroves represent one of the planet’s most productive ecosystems. Sri Lanka’s steadfast commitment to their restoration exemplifies an invaluable partnership with nature,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  

“The country's persistent efforts in refining mangrove planting techniques underscore the necessity of viewing restoration as a long-term investment.” 

Today, this resilient and biodiverse ecosystem provides natural protection against weather events including cyclones, floods, sea-level rise, wave action and coastal erosion. It also provides essential resources like medicine, fish and food, especially within underserved communities. 

Recently recognised as one of the UN’s 2024 World Restoration Flagships, Sri Lanka’s mangrove restoration initiative is now eligible for technical and financial UN support. This would bring the nation closer to its goal of restoring 10,000 hectares of mangroves by 2030 - more than 50 per cent of the country’s mangrove cover, benefiting 5,000 households and creating over 4,000 new jobs.

National Tree Day, celebrated every 28th July, is a great opportunity for Australians to come together with their community and contribute to environmental restoration projects. To find a community planting event happening in your area, or to find out more about how to host one of your own, visit the National Tree Day website

Image credits to Todd Brown/UNEP.

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Positive Actions

Ashmeeta Subra

With background in international relations and marketing communications, Ashmeeta is excited to use her skills to encourage positive environmental actions through Planet Ark. She believes that by taking small actions, we can help make a big difference and be good stewards of our planet. Outside of work, she loves spending time in nature and enjoying downtime at the beach.

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