HNB’s CSR arm HNB Sustainability Foundation, under its CSR pillar ‘Care for Nature’, has sponsored the 2016 World Wetlands Day Art Competition organized by the Central Environmental Authority, Department of Wildlife Conservation and the department of Education, in view of creating awareness among school children in the country. A series of articles on wetlands have been published in newspapers and 150 students selected from over 5000 participants in preliminary rounds, have participated in a live drawing competition held at the Bolgoda Lake on the 7th of January. The event was supported by Wijaya Newspapers Ltd for media coverage and ‘Lanka Jalani’ while the Bank has sponsored for the prizes for 36 winners of student and open categories of the competition and the prizes will be awarded to the winners by the hands of H.E the President Maithripala Sirisena at the National Wetlands Day Celebrations to be held in Pambala today.
Wetlands offer numerous ecosystem services such as absorbing the excess rainwater and providing habitat for a unique diversity of life. They have been integral in providing livelihood to many communities engaged in fishing, agriculture, clay industry, coir processing and tourism. However, wetlands are exposed to over-exploitation due to their richness of fish, fuel and water. When they are regarded as unproductive lands, wetlands are targeted for drainage and conversion as development pressures increase. The rate of loss and deterioration of wetlands is accelerating in all regions of the world. The pressure on wetlands is likely to intensify in the coming decades due to climate change as well. In Sri Lanka, many wetlands have been filled for development projects and some are used to dump waste. The remaining wetlands are also having various pressures such as encroachments, clearing of vegetation for agriculture and resettlements, hunting, mining for shells, damage caused by invasive species, eutrophication due to accumulation of fertilizer and chemicals, diverting freshwater into lagoons, acquisition for development projects are some of the threats for our wetlands.
HNB Sustainability Foundation has extended its support to protect Wetlands in the country through removal of invasive species including the thorn ‘Prosopis juliflora’ in Bundala Ramsar Wetland in the past. The HNB Sustainability Foundation is aimed at commencing another conservation project in a critical habitat for migratory birds in Mannar area as well.