The scenic beauty of the lagoons is not simply an attraction but also contributes to a range of natural services such as salt production, mangrove vegetation, habitats for migrating birds, storm surge protection, and anchorage etc.
Mangroves grow in areas with low-oxygen soil, where slowmoving waters allow fine sediments to accumulate. Mangrove forests only grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator due to their inability to withstand freezing temperatures, In Sri Lanka, many lagoons and estuaries are fringed with mangrove forests, The largest mangrove forest patch is located in the Puttlam -Kalpitiya lagoon.
Many mangrove forests can be recognized by their dense tangle of prop roots that make the trees appear to be standing still above the water. This tangle of roots allows the trees to handle the daily rise and fall of tides, which means that most mangroves get fooded at least twice a day. The roots also slow the movement of tidal waters, causing sediments to settle out of the water and build up the muddy bottom.
Mangrove forests stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides. The intricate root system of mangroves also makes these forests attractive to fish and other organisms seeking food and shelter from predators.
There are over fifty mangrove species in various climate areas in Sri Lanka. Mangroves cover about 10,000 hectares around lagoons and estuaries. The mangrove environment is very attractive expecially to view the golden rays of the sun at dusk. Boat tours in mangrove country come with many enjoyable attractions such as birds. Various reptiles and wild cats.
Mangroves provide many benefits to the environment and one hectare of mangrove with a density of 2' x 2' is capable of obsorbing Carbon dioxide issued from the combution of two million liters of diesel over a period of 12-13 years.
Mangroves distribution in lagoons vary from place to place. It is not unique to any coastal sector.
The most visited mangrove locations are Rekawa, Kalametiya, Mawella, Garaduwa in the south coast, Koggala, Ratgama, Hikkaduwa, Telwatta, Madampe, Maduganga, Kosgoda in the southwest coast, Bolgoda, Lunawa, Negambo, Muthurajawela in the West coast, and Chilaw, muthupanthiya, Mundala in the north western coast.