Wetland management in Colombo, an internationally important success story
Matt Simpson is currently in Colombo, Sri Lanka for the latest trip regarding wetland management across the city.
This is the 9th trip funded by the World Bank to provide advice and support (under the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project) to government agencies, in particular the Wetland Management Division of the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation.
The Wetland Management Strategy was finalised in February 2016 providing a fantastic example of how wetlands can be viewed as strategic natural infrastructure that is vital to human well-being, the economic prosperity of a city and to biodiversity. The strategy confirmed the importance of the 19.2 km² of wetlands for reducing flood damage, treating water pollution, modifying city air temperatures, removing pollutants from air and providing greenspaces for recreation and education.
The main recommendation of the strategy is that the wetlands should be treated as a no development zone and should be comprehensively protected with only permitted activities such as recreation, education, non-intensive agriculture, fishing and medicinal plant collection allowed.
Currently, the strategy is being disseminated to all key government agencies and stakeholders and a major workshop was held on 23rd March 2016; Matt Simpson, Dr. Wijayaratne and Professor Weerakoon will be presenting the key findings of the strategy and the implementation plan going forward.
It is encouraging that every agency consulted has fully accepted the recommendations of the Wetland Management Strategy and will recognise the importance of wetlands within major development plans that are being produced for the city. As these plans develop and the Wetland Management Strategy is implemented, Colombo will provide an example for other major cities of how to develop in a sustainable way.