Living in the only wetland capital in the world

By Dr. Chethika Gunasiri

Join us on Thursday 19 th January 2023, 6 pm, Jasmine Hall, BMICH
The public lecture is open to both members and non-members, ENTRANCE FREE.

Growing urban populations, and climate change, pose enormous challenges to our cities. Urban wetlands are the only green patches in many cities, and with their wide range of ecosystem services, play a major role in making livable and resilient cities. Colombo is a city built on a mosaic of interconnected marshes and waterways; the Colombo Wetland Complex (CWC) with an extent of 19 km 2 .

The Colombo Wetland Management Strategy, developed in 2016, revealed the extremely high dependency of the Colombo Metropolitan Region on the CWC for its ecosystem services - including flood-control, cooling effects, water treatment, urban biodiversity, livelihood opportunities, urban food security, recreational and educational opportunities, etc. This relationship between the City and the Wetland Complex, and its integration into urban development, contributed to Colombo being accredited as a Ramsar Wetland City, in 2018; the first and only Capital City which boasts this title. However, despite all conservation activities, the Colombo wetlands still experience significant anthropogenic pressure due to humans’ actions. We need to use the Colombo wetlands wisely to create a resilient and inhabitable Capital City for the present, and the future.

WNPS Monthly Lecture
Dr. Chethika Gunasiri is an environmental professional who has more than 10 years of experience in the field of Urban Ecosystem Management. She currently works as an Environmental Scientist at the Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation. She was a member of the team preparing the Colombo Wetland Management Strategy, and that which made the application for the Ramsar Wetland City Accreditation for the Colombo City. Dr. Gunasiri has a PhD in Sustainability Science from the United Nations University in Japan. She holds an MSc in Earth Science, a MBA, and a BSc in Zoology. She was a former South Asia Regional Representative of the Wetland Link International-Asia Steering Committee, and is a member, former Assistant Secretary, and Council Member of the Institute of Environmental Professionals Sri Lanka (IEPSL).

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