There is growing evidence that urban wetlands play a role not only in protecting cities from hazards such as flooding and mitigating the effects of climate change, but that they also play a critical role in positive mental health impacts and overall human wellbeing. Nowhere is this most evident as in the metropolis of Colombo in Sri Lanka where the wetlands are fundamental to the wellbeing of the 2.3 million residents, particularly the urban poor, with 60% of households directly benefiting from wetland livelihoods and products, such as fish and rice, and 100% receiving indirect benefits from flood protection, climate cooling and pest regulation. They are also vital areas for people to exercise, rest and relax helping the physical and mental wellbeing of all that appreciate these calming natural green and blue spaces.
In a context where the wetlands are managed by different state agencies and private landowners, communities can be dynamic as people migrate and move for economic opportunities, and access to wetland resources can be challenged by urban development, finding examples of community best practices for wetland management can provide inspirational stories to help motivate both communities and institutions to better look after the wetlands. This is a core idea behind our ‘Increasing the resilience of biodiversity and livelihoods in Colombo’s wetlands’ project.
In a participatory video made by the community of the Mulleriyawa wetland, members of the Sumithuru Environment Group explain how they got together to protect the wetland, the benefits for wildlife and their enjoyment and fulfilment in this wonderful place. Watch it here!