World Wetlands Day 2021


It is not easy to explain the value of a wetland to some politicians as well as businessmen who ask if they eat oxygen, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.

Speaking on World Wetlands Day, which falls today-February 2, he said the government has taken legal action against those who destroy wetlands. “Anyone who destroys wetlands is subject to law enforcement regardless of their rank,” he said. Amaraweera stressed that it is the responsibility of all to protect the wetlands of our country. “Six major wetland systems in our country have been designated as Ramsar Wet Sanctuaries. Bundala National Park, Anavilundawa Sanctuary, Maduganga Sanctuary, Wankale Sanctuary, Kumana National Park and Wilpattu National Park.

1971 is designated as World Wetlands Day, each year in accordance with the Convention held in Ramsar, Iran, and countries around the world implement various programmes to commemorate World Wetlands Day. The theme of World Wetlands Day 2021 is “Wetland and Water”. Minister said: “We have to fight a huge battle with some businessmen, underworld gangs and other people as well as some government officials to protect the Muthurajawela Wet Sanctuary which is known as the lungs of our country even though it is not named as Ramsar Wetland.”

More than 30 such individuals have already been prosecuted for causing damage to the environment. Environmentalists believe that Muthurajawela is like a filter that filters the groundwater in Colombo and Gampaha districts. By destroying these ecosystems, man is cutting his own grave yard. There have been reports of some individuals damaging the Muthurajawela and Anavilundawa wetlands in the recent past. Amaraweera said that he had personally visited the sites and taken necessary steps in each of these cases.

Meanwhile, arrangements have been made to hold a special programme at the Ministry of Environment today mark the Wetlands Day. The Ministry of Environment has made arrangements to conduct a special tree planting programme named Nekathata Pelayak on the occasion of the Sinhala and Hindu New Year 2021, on April 16 at 6.40 am according to the National Tree Planting auspicious time.

Ministry of Environment aims to implement a one-time planting programme in at least 03 million houses in the country on the occasion of the April 16.According to the National Environmental Act, No 47 of 1980 (as amended) and the Environmental Impact Assessment regulations gazette 722/22 of June 1993, “filling of more than four hectares of a wetland, removal of trees from more than one hectare needs an EIA.

Surely, the CEA is aware that Muthurajawela is a wetland with many ecosystem services which cannot be sacrificed for a development project of this nature, Centre for Environmental Justice, Environmental Scientist Hemanatha Withanage said. He said Muthurajawela is a marsh connecting Kelani River and Negombo lagoon with a 30km long wetland area – a critically important flood control system for the Gampaha district – to drain water from paddy lands in the upstream lowlands.

As the country’s largest saline coastal peat bog, the Muthurajawela marshes are 3,068 ha (7,580 acres) in extent and. It is one of 12 priority wetlands in here. The marsh, together with the Negombo lagoon forms an integrated coastal wetland ecosystem (6,232 ha in total extent). The marsh-lagoon complex is believed to have originated about 5,000 years ago.