Commander of the Navy presides planting of 100,000 mangrove saplings and opening of Puttalam new jetty on the sidelines of 71st Navy anniversary

On the sidelines of the 71st anniversary celebrations of Sri Lanka Navy, the event of planting 100,000 mangrove saplings in the lagoon area from Chilaw to Malwathuoya, estuaries and banks was held under the patronage of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne on 18th December 2021. In the meantime, Commander of the Navy also ceremonially declared open the new jetty of Puttalam on 18th December 2021.

The mangrove ecosystems play a vital role in preventing the erosion of river estuaries, banks and coastal environments, conserving the biodiversity of those environments. The natural fish breeding grounds created by it will greatly contribute to the fishing community to gain economic benefits as well as the promotion of the tourism industry.

Sri Lanka Navy, as part of its Mangrove Conservation Project, plants mangrove saplings along tidal estuaries and in salt marshes belonging to naval commands, in order to preserve this highly valued mangrove ecosystem for the next generation.

Going by the guidance of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne and under the supervision of Commander Northwestern Naval Area, Rear Admiral Jayantha Kularathne this special project was set in motion on 18th December 2021. Incidentally 100,000 mangrove saplings will be planted in Chilaw Estuary and the area around the Dutch Canal by SLNS Thambapanni, in islands and lagoon areas of the Kalpitiya and Puttalam by SLNS Vijaya, on the banks and empty lands around Kala Oya by Rapid Action Boat Squadron, in islands and banks associated with Modaragam Aru by SLNS Barana and in river banks and islands connected to Malwathu Oya by SLNS Therapuththa.

As another significant feature of this project, planting of mangroves on concrete supports along river banks of the Malwathu Oya will be done for the first time in the country, to prevent erosion of vulnerable river banks.

About 22 species of mangroves have been identified in Sri Lanka so far, of which about 16 species of mangroves are present in the area where this project is being carried out. Planting of seedlings required for this project commenced on 01st September 2021 under the technical assistance and guidance of Mr. Douglas Tissera, Director, Mangrove Conservation Division, Small Fishers Federation of Sri Lanka. The Navy hopes to increase the density of mangrove ecosystems associated with the above areas and prevent erosion of tidal estuaries and salt marshes, through this special mangrove planting project which approx. covers an area of 261 square kilometers.

Meanwhile, Commander of the Navy also declared open a new jetty in the lagoon close to the town of Puttalam on 18th December 2021. Completion of this berthing facility is a realization of a long-felt need for naval craft patrolling the seas of Puttalam, with a view to curbing illegal activities originating from the coastal waters and carrying out Navy’s rescue operations when responding to distresses of fishermen in the Puttalam lagoon and sea areas.

The construction of the jetty commenced on 08th November 2021 and the new facility is 93 ft in length and 06 ft in width. This will be beneficial for both tourism related affairs in the lagoon area as well as the Navy to efficiently carry out its operations.

These events were conducted adhering to COVID-19 protocols to prevent possibilities of the transmission of the pandemic. District Secretary of Puttalam, Mr. KJ Wijesiri, Chief Secretary North Western Province, Mr. PBM Sirisena, Director General Engineering, Rear Admiral Ravi Ranasinghe, Commander Northwestern Naval Area, Rear Admiral Jayantha Kularathne, Naval Assistant to Commander of the Navy, Rear Admiral Sujeeva Senavirathna, officers and naval personnel from the Navy Headquarters and Northwestern Naval Command, Mayor of the Puttalam Urban Council, Mr. Mohommed Rafic, Director, Mangrove Conservation Division, Small Fishers Federation of Sri Lanka, Mr. Douglas Tissera, government official in the area, school children, officers from sister services and Police and a group of invitees were present on this occasion.