Mangrove forests are unique eco-systems that have ecological, biological, and socio-economic functions. These types of plants play a vital role in maintaining the equilibrium of the eco-system and ensure the stability of our world. Mangroves are nature’s fundamental barrier against soil erosion, an ideal place for sea plant growth, and a refuge for fish, and prawns which are essential for the sustainability of our environment. One of the most vital roles played by mangroves is creating a barrier between the land and the sea which acts as a shield to protect the land from erosion, especially in an island like Sri Lanka where the whole island is surrounded by the coast.

Coastal eco-systems in many parts of Sri Lanka is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with increased severity of extreme weather events directly affecting the lives of millions of people and damaging the eco-systems they rely on.  Healthy coastal eco-systems play a major role in helping coastal communities to adapt to climate change impacts.

At present, improper development activities and lack of awareness among people regarding the importance of mangrove eco-systems have negatively impacted on the sustainability of these eco-systems. Hence, more attentions should be given to protect the mangrove eco-systems and environmentally friendly development activities should be promoted to conserve them.

Mandativu is an island off the coast of the Jaffna peninsula in Northern Province of Sri Lanka, located approximately south of the city of Jaffna. This village is famous for fishing and agriculture. A village level environmental group was formed in this village under ‘Stepping Stone to Safeguarding Sri Lanka’s Natural Environment Project’ (SSEP) which is a project based on climate justice, implemented by Caritas Sri Lanka in all 13 Dioceses with the funding support of Misereor.

As per the request of this environmental group and as a small step to conserve the mangrove eco-system, a mangrove tree planting campaign was organized by Caritas Jaffna – HUDEC on 15th of November 2022 with the help of Sri Lankan Navy at Mandativu Lake Side. Nearly 100-110 mangrove trees were planted on this day.

The entire staff of Caritas Jaffna -HUDEC along with the Director of Caritas-Jaffna Rev. Fr. Eugene Francis, the SSEP team from Caritas National Centre, Sri Lankan Navy along with the Commodore in charge Jaffna District Mr. Dissanayaga, the Divisional Secretariat Velanai Mr.Sivakaran, religious leaders, members of Mandativu environmental Group and students from Mandativu Maha Vidyalayam participated in this event.

The programme started with prayers and the flag hoisting by the Director of Caritas Jaffna and the Navy Commodore. The Director of Caritas Jaffna stated why they had organized a mangrove tree planting campaign especially in that area. He also emphasized the responsibility of people in safeguarding those planted trees & the surrounding environment for future generations during his speech. The Manager of Ecological Conservation & Plantation People from Caritas National Centre, Mr. Sajith Silva in his speech explained the objectives & scope of project to the people while inviting the people to join hands in protecting their natural surroundings as per the request of the Holy Father in his recent encyclicals on caring for the Mother Nature.