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March 2016 e-Newsletter
In This Issue: Goal In Sight For Sri Lana MangrovesFiji Begins Painful RecoverySeacology and Guests Traverse ArgentinaA Musical Tribute to Sri Lanka's MangrovesJoin Us In San Francisco 

Goal in Sight for Sri Lanka Mangroves

Seacology Board member offers to match donations to finish our largest-ever project

In less than a year since it was launched, Seacology's largest project to date has marked major successes. Our joint effort with Sri Lanka-based NGO Sudeesa is well on its way to protecting all of Sri Lanka's mangrove forests while supporting much-needed economic development for that country's most vulnerable coastal residents. Since last May, the Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Project has:
  • Established three mangrove nurseries, which have propagated over 140,000 trees of the 500,000 total that will be planted.
  • Broken ground on a first-of-its-kind mangrove museum and ecotourism center that will open on July 26th, 2016.
  • Created 92 local job-training organizations, which have offered microloans to 140 women.
Seacology has already raised $2.9 million of the project's $3.4 million cost, more than three-quarters of the total needed for our five-year plan. To continue this remarkable momentum, Peter Read, a successful businessman and member of our Board of Directors, has offered donors a generous challenge: Through July 26th, World Mangrove Day, Peter will match 100 percent of all contributions to the project, up to a total of $375,000. If we can raise $275,000 by July 26th, it would be fully matched by Peter and we would have the $550,000 needed to fully fund the project and make Sri Lanka the world's first nation to fully preserve its mangrove forests.
"What I find most inspiring is the human element of this project," says Peter. "It was an unforgettable experience to visit Sri Lanka and meet women who, with the help of microloans, were working hard to take care of their families and restore their beautiful, ravaged homeland. I also saw that donated dollars can go very far in Sri Lanka when an organization like Seacology leverages and closely stewards them. It is my great hope that my gift inspires others to support the people of Sri Lanka as they move forward with a new sense of purpose—and help save the planet as they do."
As island communities and ecosystems face growing threats, as we've seen recently in Fiji and Vanuatu, mangroves stand to play a key role in the global struggle against climate change, and particularly against storm damage. By helping Sri Lanka set an example that incorporates both habitat preservation and human empowerment, you can play a vital role in the solution. We hope you'll consider taking up Peter's challenge, and support our work in Sri Lanka today by making a contribution.

Fiji Begins Painful Recovery

On February 20th, Cyclone Winston made landfall in the island nation of Fiji. The category five storm was the strongest cyclone ever reported in the country. By the time it moved on, Winston had cost 42 Fijians their lives, left tens of thousands homeless, and caused an estimated half a billion dollars worth of damage.

Seacology is still taking stock of the situation in the many Fijian villages where we work, but from what we've been able to confirm, our project sites were mostly unharmed. The kindergarten at Nukubalavu did sustain heavy wind and water damage but still stands and provided shelter for a family in the village rendered homeless. Pettine Simpson, our field representative for Fiji who lives nearby, recalled the frightening scene during the storm, where waves higher than the shoreline coconut trees battered the village. Nukubalavu has since been able to meet its immediate needs for food and shelter, but a long period of rebuilding lies ahead.

Seacology stands behind our commitments to our partners in Fiji and in coming months we will be working to restore our projects as needed there. In the short term, however, we encourage our supporters to do what they can to support emergency-relief efforts there.

Seacology and Guests Traverse Argentina

The trail to Iguazu Falls is nearly overwhelming to the senses. Winding through lush rainforest, the calls of monkeys and toucans compete for visitors' attention before the path opens up to a stunning panorama of cascading water and what would be a great understatement to call "mist".
Executive Director Duane Silverstein and members of Seacology's Board of Directors led several guests on our latest Seacology-led travel expedition across the length of Argentina last month. They made their way from the grandiose falls on the northern border with Brazil to our project site at Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego. There, with Seacology's support, local conservationists have carved out a cluster of four small reserve areas, totaling nearly 200 acres.
Despite Rio Grande's accelerating urban growth, these plots of land remain undisturbed by development, thanks in part to fencing provided by our first project in Argentina. From a series of low-profile observation platforms, also Seacology-funded, our guests witnessed firsthand the benefits of setting aside this land: migratory shorebirds, some en route all the way from Canada, stop to replenish much of their body mass lost during the long flight. Local species such as the Rufous-breasted Dotterel and Magellanic Plover also nest and feed in the grass here and provide both local and visiting birders a glimpse into the unique fauna of the far southern tip of the Americas.

We don't have any upcoming trips booked at the moment, but keep an eye on our website and future issues of our e-newsletter for announcements.

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A Musical Tribute to Sri Lanka's Mangroves

Our groundbreaking work in Sri Lanka has undoubtedly inspired many people, and now we can add a pair of accomplished Sri Lankan artists to that list. With lyrics by Sunil Sarath Perera and performed by Dr. Amarasiri Peiris, the song, "Kadolaana" speaks of the deep connection between the people of Sri Lanka and the mangrove forests that ring the island nation. Peiris then worked with our partners at Sudeesa to shoot a music video for the song, set against a backdrop of these lush forests. You can watch the fantastic finished product at our YouTube channel here.

Join Us In San Francisco

Next month, Seacology will participate for the second time in the BART Blue Sky Festival in downtown San Francisco. Bay Area Rapid Transit is hosting dozens of local environmental organizations and sustainable vendors in Justin Herman plaza between 11 and 1:30. If you'll be in the Bay Area the afternoon of Wednesday, April 20th, we encourage you to stop by and learn more about the exciting conservation work Seacology is leading around the world.
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