Sri Lanka names mangrove lagoon for the Ramsar List

Sri Lanka names mangrove lagoon for the Ramsar List

15 February 2004
Sri Lanka

Maduganga becomes a Wetland of International Importance

The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has designated the Maduganga Mangrove Estuary for the Ramsar List as its third Wetland of International Importance, effective 11 December 2003.

Maduganga (915 hectares, 06°18'N 080°03'E) in Southern Province is a mangrove lagoon joined to the sea by a narrow canal and containing 15 islands of varying size, some of which are inhabited. It is formed of two shallow waterbodies, Maduganga and smaller Randombe Lake, connected by two narrow channels. On the islands and shores relatively undisturbed mangrove vegetation contains a rich biodiversity qualifying the wetland for 7 Criteria of International Importance. Many globally/nationally endangered, endemic and rare species - e.g. Shorea affinis, an endemic and endangered plant, Mugger (Crocodylus palustris) vulnerable (IUCN Red Book) and CITES-listed Purple-faced Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus vetulus), endangered, Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), Flapshell Turtle (Lissemys punctata), Indian Python (Python molurus) find shelter here. The lagoon provides the breeding, spawning and fattening ground for many fish species and supports 1.2 % of the Little Green Heron biogeographical population. The cultural heritage is very prominent, with numerous ancient temples in the area and on the islands. Maduganga helps in flood control by storing water during monsoon rains and retains nutrient run-off from nearby cinnamon plantations. The major occupation of the local people is fishing and agriculture (cinnamon and coconut). Poaching of wild animals and waterfowl is unfortunately increasing, and extensive use of fertilisers and consequent abundant growth of invasive species, e.g. Najas marinas or Annona glabra, are factors of concern.

The site is one of the six special areas of the Sri Lankan southwest coast, part of the Coastal Resources Management Project funded by the Dutch Government - ADB. This project includes study of the hydrology of the lagoon, educational and awareness campaigns, and development of tourism with azoning plan and establishment of a visitor centre, which all will be crowned with the Special Area Management Plan at the end of project in 2006.

-- reported by Liazzat Rabbiosi, Ramsar.

Abundant mangrove vegetation of Maduganga

Open water

Mangrove palms (Nypa Fruticans)

Water Monitor (Varanus salvator), very common in Maduganga

Najas marinas, invasive species

Inside the mangrove wetland