The Foundation of Goodness is a holistic rural development model that seeks to bridge the urban-rural divide in Sri Lanka via 10 empowerment divisions across 900+ villages island-wide, and reached over 307,000+ beneficiaries in 2022 alone by way of 15 Empowerment Centres, free of cost.
‘For generations the people of my village had been coral farmers. Coral had been harvested to be used in the creating of quicklime, slowly depleting the natural reef. When the 2004 Tsunami struck, we had destroyed our natural shield. The Tsunami hit us hard, we lost family, our homes and our livelihoods. Subsequent research showed that the impact of the Tsunami had been greatly reduced in areas protected by natural coral reefs. As the villagers say ‘we lived off the sea, and the sea came to collect its debt’. That is why this project is so close to my heart. We as a community have come full circle, the former coral farmers have become coral conservators.’– Kushil Gunasekera, Founder and Chief Trustee of the Foundation of Goodness (FoG).
Seenigama, Kushil’s home-town and home to FoG’s flagship model is the site for the latest partnership between Tokyo Cement Group (TCG) and FoG. This landmark project titled: “Participatory Coral Reef Research, Rehabilitation and Conservation in Sri Lanka”, aims to spearhead ‘re-coral-isation’ in the area.
In collaboration with scientific partners Wildlife Research & Conservation Trust of Sri Lanka (WRCT) and Marine Research and Consultancy, Blue Resources Trust (BRT), an innovative, practical solution has been introduced to heal the ailing coastal coral reefs – hollow concrete blocks!
‘After decades of limestone harvesting and unchecked fishing practices such as careless anchoring, use of illegal netting or dynamite fishing, the corals that skirt our shores have been severely depleted. The importance of corals is widely acknowledged; they are not only habitats and sources of nourishment for flourishing fish species but are essential tidal blockers that deter erosion and defend us from tsunamis.’ – Tokyo Cement
‘A simple strategy that only requires patience and precision to pull-off. It’s a pragmatic, effective solution,’ says Head of Innovation and Corporate Strategy, Tokyo Cement, Mr Praveen Gnanam.
Tokyo Cement has developed hollow concrete blocks; made of recycled concrete waste from their Ready-mixed Concrete Plants, as substrate for marine life and new corals to grow. These aerated blocks, using ph-neutralised concrete are used as the foundation for the growth of indigenous coral species.
In November of 2018 our FoG divers from Dive Seenigama, began the pilot project. Following knowledge sharing sessions conducted by Tokyo Cement, our team took the first coral planting dive on the 30th of November 2018.
The initial coral nubbins were propagated on coral nurseries then transferred to the Reef-Balls placed strategically along the Seenigama Reef.
In the following months we have been expanding the collection and carefully monitoring and maintaining the newcomers in collaboration with our partners.
We are happy to announce that the corals have taken root and seem to like their new home!
The changes are slow, but the pilot phase of the project has proven that the Seenigama Reef can be mended and that dedication from all of us is all that is needed to turn things around!
Following the success of the pilot phase, FoG and TCG have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to expand the project and conserve the coral reef of Seenigama.
The first year will see a 100 reef balls being introduced to the Seenigama Reef. The scientific partners will gather data on the progress of the project and following assessments at the conclusion of one year, the project will be expanded into the 2nd year.
Tokyo Cement has been a long term friend and sponsor of the Foundation of Goodness, supporting our community development activities throughout the years; from sponsoring monthly Cricket Coaching Clinics in both the North and the South, as well as funding the Foundation of Goodness’ rural cricket development programme in Seenigama, to being our partners for the Murali Harmony Cup from 2013-2016.
Tokyo Cement first launched their Coral Reef Conservation project in the East Coast of Sri Lanka in 2012 and together with their scientific partners have a proven history of success in this field.
FoG is very excited to partner with Tokyo Cement once again, on this incredible project which promises to transform the Seenigama Reef, benefiting the community for generations to come.
To us the most poignant aspect of this project is that our Seenigama community has come full circle: those who had made a living destroying the reef are now its fiercest defenders.