OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN MAINTAINING THE ECOLOGICAL CHARACTER OF BUNDALA RAMSAR SITE, SRI LANKAAuthors: N.Perera,S.W.Kotagama
Bundala Ramsar site (BRS) designated in 1990 received considerable national and international interest as the very first Wetland of International Importance of Sri Lanka. The present study explores opportunities and challenges faced by the BRS to maintain its “ecological character” within the framework of the Ramsar Convention. The methodology adopted was “Rapid Assessment” which is identified as an important tool for assessing wetlands.
Donor funded project assisted BRS to achieve commendable progress in on-site management, compared to other protected areas in the country, where scientific research, community empowerment, and ecotourism ventures were promoted. Yet lack of continuous financial provisions underpins the maintenance of these positive initiatives, after each project concludes and as a result park management effectiveness is only 46.7%. Even though not mandatory by the Ramsar treaty, the legal protection as well as international recognition of the wetland increased after 1990. Initially designated as a Sanctuary for birds in 1969, its status was upgraded to a National Park (NP) in 1992, leading to several unanticipated issues, which have left their mark on policy interventions with regard to PA management in Sri Lanka. The wetland was identified as an Important Bird Area and also nominated as the core area of a UNESCO-MAB. Yet these different protection “labels” had led to confusion at the ground level management leading to devaluation of these labels. On the positive side, the Ramsar Status had been instrumental in halting or preventing some negative development initiatives within the area.
Major challenges faced by BRS to maintain its ecological character are freshwater influx, spread of alien invasives, unsustainable livelihood practices, and pressure from ad-hoc mega development activities. If BRS is to maintain its ecological character as a “coastal lagoon complex” that provides important habitat for waders, there is an urgent need to address both onsite and off-site issues in a more collaborative manner. Therefore integrating the sites management efforts in to the boarder land and seascapes as well as in to relevant sectoral plans and policies are required. Alternative management framework is needed to be thought off.
Keywords: Bundala Ramsar Site, Ecological character, Multiple designations, Protected are Management Effectiveness, Wader communities
How to Cite: Perera,N,Kotagama,S.W, (2016). OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN MAINTAINING THE ECOLOGICAL CHARACTER OF BUNDALA RAMSAR SITE, SRI LANKA.WILDLANKA, 4(3):Pages 117-132
Department of Wildlife Conservation,
No: 811/A, Jayanthipura,