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Dilmah Beach Caretaker Program: A success story in community-led coastal conservation
Protecting 50 km of Sri Lankan coasts while empowering livelihoods
The Beach Caretaker Program is a breakthrough local conservation effort that inspires communities to act to protect their environment from coastal pollution while leading to socioeconomic gains. Begun in 2019, under the collaborative direction of Dilmah Conservation and Marine Environment Protection Authority, this year, the program increases its waste collection coverage to 50 km of coastal area with the help of 50 beach caretakers.
Sri Lanka’s coastline supports an array of precious and fragile ecosystems requiring stronger protection. As a related effort, Dilmah’s Marine Conservation program includes various initiatives that focus on conserving coastal habitats and marine species, eradicating plastic pollution, and empowering coastal communities. What’s more, one of Dilmah’s key marine conservation achievements has been to support the Department of Wildlife in gazetting and changing the conservation status of Kayankerni Reef in the East, as the 18th marine sanctuary in Sri Lanka.
Dilmah further maintains a successful partnership with the Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA). Together they aspire to achieve many conservation objectives and strive to restore the natural balance of sensitive coastal ecosystems in the country.
The Beach Caretaker Program is one such initiative. A community-led continuous coastal cleanup, the program helps conserve threatened and degraded marine ecosystems. While empowering local communities with knowledge and awareness they can pass onto future generations, the initiative also provides caretakers with a reliable source of income. Dilmah has been responsible for protecting 23.1 km of coastline and has, since January 2021, expanded to create a greater positive impact on our oceans and the local community by extending the managed coastal area to 50 km.
Among the many partnerships where Dilmah contributes to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17, its collaboration with Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) has been a successful and long-standing one leading to the achievement of many effective conservation objectives. The company has set an example for other corporates and businesses to invest in similar worthwhile programs to secure a better future for us all.
Since the program’s start in October 2019, Dilmah’s Beach Caretakers have collected and sustainably disposed of over 6 tonnes of coastal waste. The second phase of the Beach Caretaker Program will safeguard 50 km of coastline with the help of 50 beach caretakers, with an approximate 20 tonnes of waste expected to be collected in 2021.
Clean and healthy oceans are vital for the survival of future generations, the planet, and that of our own. Oceans play a fundamental role in balancing ecosystems and water resources and mitigating the impacts of climate change at a greater scale.
The Beach Caretaker Program is a powerful illustration of how community-led conservation programs can create a significant positive impact and alter the bleak future of the planet. They also serve as a reminder that every action, no matter how small, can have a rippling effect.
This article was taken from the Daily FT
This article was also published in The Island
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