The Pottuvil Lagoon Eco Tour is a new initiative in the management of mangroves and wildlife in Sri Lanka. It brings together local fishermen, government officials, and tourists, in an effort to conserve and protect the abundant wildlife found in Pottuvil Lagoon.
During the two-hour canoe tour through Pottuvil Lagoon, you will experience the serenity and beauty of a mangrove ecosystem. The mangrove forest is home to a huge variety of birds such a sea eagles, kingfishers, pelicans, herons, darters, grebes, and long-legged stilts. In the trees, you can see both varieties of Sri Lanka’s macaque monkeys. In the water lurk crocodiles, water monitors lizards, freshwater snakes, and a multitude of fish and prawns. You can identify all these in the Eco-tour Information Center before you set out on the eco-tour.
Eco-tourism promotes sustainable use
The Pottuvil Lagoon Eco Tour provides a significant source of additional income for the local fishermen, who work as Eco-tour Guides. More than fifty percent of the ticket price of the eco-tour goes directly into a community-managed ‘Credit Fund’. This Credit Fund provides low-interest loans to members of the local fishing community. The income generated by the eco-tour is a huge incentive for the local community to manage and protect the lagoon and its mangrove resources. By supporting the eco-tour, you are contributing to the sustainable use of Pottuvil Lagoon.
Eco-tourism and replanting mangroves
Income from the eco-tour is also used by the local fishing community to meet the cost of replanting mangroves in Pottuvil Lagoon. Over the past decade, mangroves have been destroyed due to local development and farming. The loss of mangroves affects fish production and the incomes of fishermen as well as wildlife. By replanting mangroves fishermen are regenerating this valuable habitat.
Departure Times: 7 am and 4 pm daily, except Friday mornings
Duration: 2 hours
Bring: Camera, hat, sunscreen, and water to drink
Tours depart: Any Hotels located near Arugam Bay
The mangrove education center and Pottuvil Lagoon Eco-Tour manage by the Pottuvil Hidayapuram Fisheries Society (FCS)
COASTAL LAGOON AND MANGROVE FORESTS
Coastal Lagoons and mangrove forests are economically and environmentally important habitats. They create employment for local communities, such as fishing, and are home to a variety of wildlife, Such as wading birds. In many parts of the world, including Sri Lanka, coastal lagoons and mangroves are at risk; destroyed to construct shrimp farms, cut for timber or encroached to create new rice fields.
Over the past fifty years, the area covered by mangrove forests in the Pottuvil lagoon has steadily decreased. The destruction of mangroves has affected wildlife in the lagoon and reduced the incomes of local fishermen.
THE MANGROVE EDUCATION CENTER
The Mangrove Education Center provides information on mangrove conservation for local and international visitors. Teachers and students from local schools also use the center to learn about mangroves. Raising awareness locally now, among young people, about the value of mangroves and coastal lagoons, may help to protect Pottuvil Lagoon in the future.
The society wishes to thank Sewalanka Foundation ABTA for its technical and management assistance and the international union (IUCN SL) for supporting the education center and Eco-Tour financially.
ECO-TOUR PROMOTES MANGROVE CONSERVATION
Eco-tourism, by generating income for local communities, can encourage the sustainable explanation of natural resources. The income, generated by the Pottuvil eco-tour, the ticket price is used by the Hidayapuram FCS to pay the salaries of the Eco-tour Guides, to meet the cost of running the Hidayapuram mangrove Nursery and to maintain the mangrove Education center.
Any profit that you made is added to the society’s saving and credit scheme, which provides loans to lagoon fishermen to buy new fishing gear and canoes. The Eco-Tour adds value to the lagoon and its mangroves, creating new incentive conservation.
Using their extensive local knowledge, a member of the Hidayapuram FCS Developed the route of the eco-tour to include all the most interesting features of the Pottuvil lagoon. The two-hour eco-tour is unique in Sri Lanka; eco-tourism is run by the local community and that directly benefits the local community.