Mattala Airport, Sri Lanka

Mattala Airport, built in the midst of wildlife sanctuaries, wages an ongoing battle against birds and animals that could pose a risk to air safety. Removal of habitats and obstruction of migration routes has led to an increase in human-elephant conflicts


Description

Deforestation and human- elephant conflict

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Basic Data
NameMattala Airport, Sri Lanka
CountrySri Lanka
ProvinceSouthern Province
SiteMattala
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Ports and airport projects
Specific CommoditiesLand
Live Animals
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsMattala International Airport was approved by the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) in May 2009 and launched the following November.[2] The airport opened on 18th March 2013.[3] The airport has capacity to handle 1 million passengers per year and its 3,500 meter runway can accommodate the world’s largest passenger aircraft. The cost of the project was USD209 million with USD 190 million provided as a loan from the Chinese government via the Exim Bank of China.[16] The airport site covers 2,000 hectares in total with the first stage of development taking up 800 hectares.[17]
Project Area (in hectares)2,000
Level of Investment (in USD)209,000,000 [16]
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesThe Export–Import Bank of China (Exim Bank of China ) from China - In 2009, the Export-Import Bank of China gave Sri Lanka a USD210 million concessional loan for the construction of Mattala Airport
China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) from China - Constructed Mattala Airport
AECOM from United States of America - AECOM was the lead designer responsible for design and build contract for Mattala Airport
Airport and Aviation Services AASL (AASL) from Sri Lanka - Operator of Mattala Airport
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Sri Lanka

Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL)

Central Environment Authority (CEA)

Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC)

Government of China
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGlobal Forest Watch - https://www.globalforestwatch.org/

Environment Conservation Trust - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Environment-Conservation-Trust/343328122511147

Green Movement of Sri Lanka - http://www.gmsl.lk/

Environment Foundation Ltd. (EFL) - https://efl.lk/

Ceylon Bird Club - http://www.ceylonbirdclub.org/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Fires, Air pollution, Noise pollution, Other Environmental impacts
OtherBird strikes (collisions between birds and aircraft)

Human - elephant conflict

Fragmented wildlife habitats
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
Potential: Accidents
OtherIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.A large area of was destroyed for Mattala Airport in spite of warnings from several EJOs that locating the facility in the midst of wildlife sanctuaries would cause ongoing conflict between airline safety and preservation of birds and animals. Since Mattala Airport commenced operations the battle against birds, elephants and other wildlife species had continued. Human-elephant conflict has increased resulting in deaths of humans and elephants.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

[12] SELECTION OF MATTALA AS THE ALTERNATIVE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT OF SRI LANKA AND ITS OPERATIONS, Auditor General’s Department, Performance and Audit Division, 2015
[click to view]

Links

[4] Mattala International Airport In Mid-air Battle, Sunday leader, 31 March 2013
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[5] Water holes around Mattala closed to keep away birds and animals, Times Online Sri Lanka, 7 April 2013
[click to view]

[6] Petition: Stop The Process Of Destroying Sources Of The Wildlife In Mattala, Colombo Telegraph, 3 May 2013
[click to view]

[7] Monkeys also become victims of Mattala! Dogs have a field day!, LANKANEWSWEB.NET, 28 April 2013
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[9] Peacocks damage plane in Mattala, Colombo Gazette, 11 January 2014
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[11] Airports' global bird slaughter - 100,000s gassed, shot, poisoned, Ecologist, 18 August 2014
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[13] Concern mounts over roaming elephant on Mattala – Hambantota road, News 1st, 12 September 2015
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[14] Troops Clear Wild Animals From Sri Lanka's White-Elephant Airport, NDTV, 18 March 2018
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[15] The Story Behind The World's Emptiest International Airport, Forbes, 28 May 2016
[click to view]

[16] EOI to run Mattala Airport next month, Daily News, 14 June 2016
[click to view]

[17] Namal says Mattala Airport will boost overall economy of south and Sri Lanka, DailyFT, 18 March 2013
[click to view]

[10] Religious beliefs save Mattala peacocks, but threat persists, voiceoflankauk.com, 20 January 2014, (accessed 25 March 2014)
[click to view]

[8] MRIA expansion impacts on wildlife, Ceylon Today, 19 June 2013
[click to view]

[1] On track to 'go beyond the critical point': Sri Lanka still losing forests at rapid clip, Mongabay, 15 July 2014
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[2] Wildlife in flight!, Times Online Sri Lanka, 22 August 2010
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[3] Sri Lanka Mattala airport reports bird strike, Sri Lanka News Live, 28 March 2013
[click to view]

Media Links

Concern mounts over roaming elephant on Mattala – Hambantota road, Newsfirst Sri Lanka, 12 September 2015
[click to view]

Other Documents

An elephant crossing the road near Mattala Airport Photo by Rahul Samantha Hettiarchchi. Source: The Third Pole
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Forest was cleared for Mattala Airport in 2006 Source: Global Forest Watch
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Driving deer and boar away In March 2016 troops were deployed to drive deer and wild boar away from Mattala Airport. Source: Daily News
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Mattala Airport entrance hall Mattala Airport removed elephant habitat, and handles very few flights, becoming an embarrassing white elephant. Source: Wade Shephard
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Elephant movements near Mattala Airport Monitoring elephant movements around Mattala Airport, one of several developments which removed their habitats. Source: Jennifer Pastorini/Centre for Conservation and Research
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Mattala Airport passenger terminal Mattala Airport passenger terminal in May 2013. Photo: By Adbar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27801508
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Wildlife petition graphic Graphic from petition - Stop the process of destroying sources of the wildlife in Mattala, Sri Lanka, Nilantha I Source: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/community_petitions/Stop_the_process_of_destroying_sources_of_the_wildlife_IN_Mattala/
[click to view]

Peacock sculpture Large metal peacock sculpture on approach road to Mattala Airport. The artwork suggests that aviation has an affinity with birdlife but operations at Mattala Airport have been hindered by birdstrikes, collisions between aircraft and birds, including peacocks. Photo: Royston Ellis http://roystonellis.com/blog/roystons-report-no-160/
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Land cleared for the airport In 2010, 800 hectares of land were cleared for Mattala Airport, large tracts of land were set alight. Photo: The Sunday Times http://www.sundaytimes.lk/100822/Plus/plus_01.html
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Cracked aircraft windscreen Cracks in the cockpit windscreen of a SriLankan Airlines flight that collided with a bird at Mattala Airport on 25th March 2013. Image: The Sunday Leader http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2013/03/31/mattala-international-airport-in-mid-air-battle/
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorRose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update07/03/2019
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