In the past, wetlands were considered as wastelands that could be reclaimed or changed for use by
mankind. Development initiatives have regarded these areas suited only for such purposes, and as a
consequence, many wetlands have been drained or used as dump sites for refuse and urban waste. With
increasing knowledge however, we have come to understand that wetlands are amongst the world's most
valuable and vulnerable environments on which a variety of plants, animals and human communities
Initially, interest in wetlands centred on naturalists and waterfowl hunters, but today, a growing section of
society has become aware of the benefits to be accrued from both marine and freshwater wetlands.
Gradually, it is being recognized that, by using and maintaining wetlands in a sensible way, other sectors,
such as agriculture, flood control, water purification, fisheries and recreation could be significantly improved.
In Sri Lanka, the conservation of wetlands has been vested mostly with the wildlife sector as reflected by
the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of 1938 and its amendments. However, for a number of reasons
due recognition for the importance of conserving wetlands in the country has not effectively come off the
ground until recently.