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Transformed Wetlands and Urban Resilience: a Case Study From Bellanwila – Attidiya Wetland Sanctuary, Sri Lanka

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Urbanization is a major issue that threatens natural habitats. However, carefully planned anthropogenic activities give the opportunity to transform urban natural habitats to offer new services to cities. In this study, we assessed the impact of land-use conversions on the spatial status of Bellanwila - Attidiya wetland sanctuary in the Colombo district, Sri Lanka.  The Bellanwila - Attidiya wetland provides many ecosystem services but is highly vulnerable to the rapid land use and land cover changes that comes with urbanization. Multi-temporal remote sensing images were analyzed for the years 2005, 2009, and 2015 to study the changes in land use/land cover features of the wetland. The social perception of the ecosystem services was assessed by conducting semi-structured interviews with the residents. During the study period, parts of the wetland had been transformed into residential areas (10.1%) and open water systems (8.6%). Urban expansion and the construction of a storm water management system were found to be the main causes for these changes. The community perception revealed that the wetland has deteriorated, and that the ecosystem services had been altered due to the land use/land cover changes. The anthropogenic transformation of  part of the wetland into a flood retention area and the addition of infrastructure for recreational purposes have added value to the wetland complex and therefore opportunities for new ecosystem services have emerged. Our findings shed light on the need for inclusive urban planning mainstreaming community perceptions. It also highlights the benefits of transforming urban spaces into anthropogenic landscapes that blends with nature to offer ecosystem services and enhance community resilience. 

About the Authors

Munagamage S. Gayani
Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Colombo
Sri Lanka

Colombo 07(00700)

Deepth D. Wickramasinghe
Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Colombo
Sri Lanka

Colombo 07(00700)

Harsha D. Dahanayake
Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Colombo
Sri Lanka

Colombo 07(00700)

Yugani N. Weerasinghe
Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Colombo
Sri Lanka

Colombo 07(00700)


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For citations:

Gayani M.S., Wickramasinghe D.D., Dahanayake H.D., Weerasinghe Yu.N. Transformed Wetlands and Urban Resilience: a Case Study From Bellanwila – Attidiya Wetland Sanctuary, Sri Lanka. GEOGRAPHY, ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY. 2022;15(2):23-30.

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