As written by Rtr. Yoshani Ranaweera
“If there are no mangroves, then the sea will have no meaning. It is like having a tree without roots, for the mangroves are the roots of the sea…”
Words of a Thai fisherman from the Andaman Coast
Mangroves are survivors. With their roots submerged in water, mangrove trees thrive in hot, muddy and salty conditions that would obviously kill most other plants. Not only do mangroves manage to survive in such challenging conditions, but these exceptional ecosystems also support an incredible diversity of creatures including some species unique to mangrove forests. And, as scientists are discovering, mangrove swamps are extremely important for our own well-being as well as for the health of the planet.
The question is: Will mangroves be able to survive the impact of human activities?
Alarmingly enough, more than 35% of the world’s mangroves have already disappeared, and the loss is continuing at a rate of 1% annually. As dependable beings on this planet, it is high time that we start acting before it gets too late!
On the 23rd of September 2018, the members of Rotaract Club of University of Moratuwa, along with the cordial support of the Nagenahiru Environmental Foundation, took an initiative to prevent these remarkable species from becoming extinct. Setting off from the university premises at the break of dawn, the Rotaractors managed to reach the final destination, the Madampe Lake, Godahena, Ambalangoda by mid-morning. After the founder of the Nagenahiru Environmental Foundation had held a brief lecture on the environment and the mangrove ecosystem, the volunteers loaded the mangrove plants into three boats and set forth on an amazing and unique expedition through the enchanting colonies of mangroves that inhabited the water.
The goal was to plant about 500 mangrove plants amidst the forest that already subsisted. It was rather a challenging experience for the volunteers who had to footslog through the mud in order to find convenient and proper places to embed the plants. Yet, after about four hours of hard work that not only included digging through mud and planting mangroves, but also guaranteed to give the volunteers quite an exclusive opportunity that not every person would be fortunate enough to experience, the primary objective was finally achieved by midday. The taste of accomplishment was inevitable, and the fact that each volunteer had done something to conserve a vital part of Mother Nature that would eventually signify a service done to the whole of mankind, rather than to an individual, was indeed appreciable. Afterwards, the volunteers were rewarded with a boat safari in the Madampe lagoon, which relieved the exhaustion of the tough yet satisfying work performed.
It was certainly a day well-spent for the Rotaractors who were actually fortunate enough to participate in such a fascinating project which assured to provide each volunteer with an awe-inspiring experience that left amazing memories for a lifetime and set a perfect example for all mankind.
We may not be able to change others, but if we change ourselves, we might change the whole world.