SAGT partners University of Sri Jayewardenepura to rehabilitate Benthara River Mangrove Complex

Tuesday, 7 February 2023 00:56 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


South Asia Gateway Terminals Ltd. (SAGT), Sri Lanka’s first Public Private Partnership Container Terminal and flagship entity of the Board of Investment, partnered with the Center for Sustainability (CFS), University of Sri Jayewardenepura to carry out a mangrove restoration project together with the implementation of an agroforestry system on five acres of land in the Benthara River Mangrove Complex situated in Galatara, Iththapana for a period of five years. 

Sri Lanka is home to approximately 19,500 hectares of mangrove forests consisting of over 20 true mangrove species. The Benthara River Mangrove Complex is one of the most threatened mangrove ecosystems within the island due to continued unsustainable agricultural practices and damaging human activity. 

The mangrove restoration project by CFS and SAGT will ensure the rehabilitation of the mangrove forests and revitalise and resuscitate endangered ecosystems that thrive in the shelter of the mangrove root systems. The project will also promote agroforestry in the region and educate communities on sustainable harvesting, and use of natural resources with the aim of promoting a balance between the coexistence of the community with the surrounding environment.

Since its reaffirmation to sustainability in 2018, SAGT has successfully adhered to its four pillared sustainability strategy including Environmental Stewardship. SAGT’s alignment to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UNSDGs) ensures that the organisations sustainable best practices are carried forward to benefit the surrounding communities and environment. As an organisation that is dependent on various energy sources to power terminal operations, SAGT is conscious of the company’s carbon footprint and has actively engaged in minimising and offsetting emissions from operations. 

In its efforts to offset a portion of the annual carbon footprint, SAGT embarked on a reforestation project of 1 acre of land at the Yagiriala Rainforest along with CFS in 2019. Following on from the success of the project, SAGT has now committed to the reforestation of 4 more acres of land and the maintenance of the 5 acres of land till 2024. SAGT’s engagement in the Mangrove Reforestation project is expected to offset approximately 14% of SAGT’s annual carbon footprint. 

Commenting on the collaboration with CFS, SAGT Chief Commercial Officer Ted Muttiah stated, “The port of Colombo is a vital cog in the country’s economic revival. Within this SAGT’s leadership as a responsible and a sustainable terminal operator is an integral part of the port’s overall value proposition. Awareness of the carbon footprint of our operations is the beginning of mindfully striving to reduce impact on our environment. Focused on carbon off-set projects, introducing enabling policies, adopting latest technologies, and making processive changes has empowered upstream and downstream stakeholders. We are also aware that to make a greater impact beyond the boundaries of SAGT, it is important to adhere to the 17th United Nations Sustainability Development Goal, Partnership for the Goals. Through our continued collaboration with the Center for Sustainability we are striving to ensure the protection of the environment while greening SAGT’s operations.”

Sharing his views on the partnership with SAGT, University of Sri Jayewardenepura Center for Sustainability Director Professor Priyan Perera stated, “SAGT’s efforts towards contributing to the restoration of the environment is commendable. I’m confident that our partnership will continue to bring positive benefits both to the environment and surrounding communities.”