Archive for the ‘2011: Year of Forests’ Category

Golf course threat to prime natural habitat in Udawalawe

September 7, 2011
Villagers and conservationists vehemently reject so-called ‘eco-friendly’ recreation project in Bogahapattiya – Malaka Rodrigo reports
 
This happens to be the International Year of Forests, but little is being done to protect our own forests and natural habitats. Rampant, irresponsible deforestation continues around the country. The latest threat to habitat is reported from the Udawalawe area. Over 600 acres of land in Bogahapattiya have been earmarked for a proposed golf course.A private company, according to villagers living in the area, has bought 628 acres of land to construct a golf course in Bogahapattiya. This is prime forest territory, with savannah grasslands inhabited by elephant, bear, sambhur and other animals.

Precious tropical deciduous forest land in Bogahapattiya is threatened by developers.
Age-old trees have already been marked for felling in the Bogahapattiya natural forest.

Should the golf course project go through, Sri Lanka will lose considerable area of an extremely bio-diverse forest. These tropical deciduous forests, as they are called, are the most threatened forest type on earth, according to conservationists. These forests are under greater threat than rainforests: they are being lost at a faster rate and cover land areas that are very favourable to human activity.

But there is more to the threat than losing valuable forest cover. Loss of vegetation caused by deforestation leads to soil erosion and run-off. The silted water ends up in the Weli Oya reservoir, which irrigates more than 3,000 acres of paddy land and feeds 27 small tanks.

The villagers in the area are wholly on the side of the conservationists. They say the Bogahapattiya forest is of great importance to them. Apart from serving many environmental needs, the forest also feeds two streams that enter the Weli Oya, which in turn feeds into the Walawe.

The entire area is a hugely important watershed for populations downstream. The land selected for the golf course comes right up to where the two streams, including the Demata Ara, join up with the Weli Oya at a small dam. Construction work on the intended golf course will disrupt the Weli Oya irrigation system.

Speaking on behalf of the villagers of Bogahapattiya, senior Buddhist monk Nelliwala Sumedhalankara Thera said thousands of families depend on agriculture based on the waters of the Weli Oya.

The thera said the paddy farmers already face hardships because of water shortages. The Weli Oya is not always filled to capacity, and felling trees upstream would only make matters worse for the farmers.
A letter highlighting the potential ill-effects from losing hydro-catchment areas, should the golf course be approved, was sent by Wellawaya District Irrigation Engineer H. T. S. W. Wijesuriya to the higher authorities. Mr. Wijesuriya pointed out that the golf course and the accompanying hotel would consume a large volume of water, and this would drastically affect the water level in the reservoir. The Weli Oya irrigation project was built at great cost, Mr. Wijesuriya noted, and allowing the golf course would totally undermine the investment. [Welioya itself has received some criticism as some rich elephant habitats are being shrinked due to the project. Environmentalists point out that it is a double crime to commit activities that is possible to make such a project fail, pointing out that in that case the project shouldn’t be implemented on the first place]

Shermin de Silva, a conservationist who has studied the elephants of Udawalawe, says the area is a vital elephant habitat. Bogahapattiya has unique mineral deposits which serve as salt licks. These natural mineral deposits provide essential nutrients for animals living in nutrient-poor ecosystems. Elephants in the Udawalawe National Park travel to Bogahapattiya, through the Dahaiyagala Elephant Corridor to satisfy nutritional needs.

Dahaiyagala was in the news when attempts were made to fence off Udawalawe. Environmental Foundation and other environmental groups went to court and obtained a court order to halt the fencing.
As a result of the court action, the Dahaiyagala Elephant corridor has got legal protection from encroachment. The court also issued an order to fence the sides of the corridor to provide a safe passag for elephants while protcting villagers living on both sides of the corridor are protected from the elephants. The main purpose of creating the Dahaiyagala Elephant Corridor is to allow the Udawalawe elephants to move to Bogahapattiya.

Environmental Foundation Limited legal officer Wardani Karunaratne says that even if the golf course was built on privately owned land, the owners had to abide by the law and obtain an Environmental Impact Assessment. She said no such assessment has been made.

Meanwhile, Bogahapattiya residents say trees have been marked for felling. Legal experts say there are many irregularities in the way the project is being handled. Bogahapattiya has Proposed Sanctuary status, which means it does not have the full legal protection given to vital ecosystems. The area was to be declared a sanctuary, under the Department of Wildlife Conservation. Later, it was proposed that the land be declared a Conservation Forest, under the Forest Department. While the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Forest Department argue over who is responsible for what, Bogahapattiya remains seriously threatened, and for what is seen as mere “short-term gains.”

According to Sumedhalankara Thera, a company named Alpha Omega is behind the golf course project, supported by a US-based Sri Lankan businessman named Vasu Nawalingam. A carbon credit certification conducted by Alpha Omega lists 305 acres of the Bogahapattiya land as dense primary forest, and 195 acres as savannah forest.

The Sumedhalankara Thera says Alpha Omega has purchased 628 acres of Bogahapattiya land for Rs. 6 million. The monk said the timber alone on the land was worth many times more than the sum paid for the land, and hinted that the company Alpha Omega seemed to be having its own way in the deal.
The golf project has been labelled the “Beragala Eco-friendly Golf Course.” Environmentalists scoff at the concept of an “eco-friendly golf course,” pointing out that a golf course consumes vast quantities of water and tons of fertiliser.

At a recent meeting on development in Moneragala, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapakse said the golf course would be vetoed if the Irrigation Department also opposed the project.
Bogahapattiya villagers and conservationists are hoping the country’s leaders will step in and insist on Bogahapattiya’s protection, for the sake of the wildlife, the people, and the country.

Pulished on SundayTimes on 04.09.2011 http://www.sundaytimes.lk/110904/News/nws_15.html 

Action! It’s Bollywood Vs Hollywood for WED

June 12, 2011

World Environment Day (WED) was celebrated around the world on June 5 and both Bollywood and Hollywood stars were among those who rallied their fans to take environmental friendly actions on this day – by Malaka Rodrigo

‘Save trees’, ‘Protect our Environment’ – these are some of the slogans we start hearing around the first week of June when the world celebrates World Environment Day (WED). But this time the United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP) came up with a new way to convey the message.

“Hi Rahul, I bet I can get more people to join us on World Environment than you..”
“Ahh…. I don’t think so.. I’m one of the most respected actors of India after al.l”
“Ah…. So am I …and I have so much goodwill to share that I will plant a tree for each activity registered under my name.”
“Well, I will see each of your trees and will plant two.”

This was the dialogue between two Bollywood stars – Priyanka Chopra and Rahul Bose who headed an environmental campaign to urge their fans in India and around the world to take action on World Environment Day. ‘Plant a Forest’ was the theme of the challenge.

The WED challenge set up by these Bollywood stars is simple. There are many environmental activities we all can do individually or as a community- from choosing public transport to travel, turning off additional lights, recycling or even tree planting. These individual actions, when multiplied, can make an exponential difference to the planet.

To make their favourite actor win the challenge, the fans have to register their Environmental Activity under either Priyanka or Rahul on the UNEP WED Challenge website. When they log into www.wedchallenge.org/india  it first prompts them to choose their most loved idol and then register their activities.

This year’s theme is “FORESTS: Nature at your service” and going forward with this idea both Rahul and Priyanka promised to plant a forest for each registered activity to increase the tree cover and most importantly look after the trees. More action by their fans will make this forest bigger.

Hollywood stars Don Cheadle (Ocean’s Eleven) and Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen too have taken up the challenge. Bollywood has in fact challenged Hollywood in World Environment Day activities.

“Hey Don.. Hey Giselle.. Now we get more people to join us on World Environment Day than both of you”.
This was typically a challenge by a hero in a Hindi movie, but it was for a good cause.

“Help Bollywood to beat Hollywood to plant a huge forest to make the world a healthier place” that was Rahul’s plea to his fans.

Visit http://www.unep.org/wed/A-Z/ to get some of the ideas on environmental actions. The final results of the challenge will be released soon, so keep an eye on the UNEP website www.UNEP.org/WED

Published on SundayTimes youth section – MirrorMagazine on 12.06.2011 http://www.sundaytimes.lk/110612/Magazine/sundaytimesmagazine_02.html

Harness aquatic resources while sustaining marine biodiversity- India’s Environ Minister

June 12, 2011

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said that Marine Biodiversity is an important natural resource whose conservation is as important as that of the Forests. Speaking on the Gulf of Mannar fishing issue, the minister said that fishermen from both countries should look at the sustainability of these valuable marine resources to avoid over-fishing.

He pointed out the need for regional cooperation on marine issues and said that India funded the establishment of SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre (CZMC) to achieve the objective of managing coastal resources for their sustainable use. The minister made these comments at a conference held in New Delhi to mark World Environment Day on June 5.

The region includes some of the most extensive mangrove areas in the Indian Ocean, and some of the world’s least disturbed coral reefs. These coastal ecosystems have been subjected to increasing exploitation, particularly over the last 20 years. CZMC has also arranged a Study Tour in collaboration with the Coast Conservation Department of Sri Lanka in April.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Fisheries- Rajitha Senaratne said that, his ministry aims at new mechanisms and methods to stop trawling in the Northern seas. A one-month period started from May 15, is considered as the fish breeding period, and fishermen, traditionally, avoid fishing in this part of the ocean. So the ministry aims at placing some barriers at strategic locations to stop destructive fishing methods. This year’s Ocean’s Day too was celebrated last week on June 8, and the minister’s message emphasised the ministry’s commitment to ensure the sustainable use of our aquatic resources.

Published on SundayTimes on 12.06.2011 http://www.sundaytimes.lk/110612/News/nws_28.html

Let’s paint our world Green..!!

June 11, 2011

The World Environment Day (WED) global celebrations were held in India on 5th of June this year. To mark the event a meaningful song was compiled and shared with the world by the United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP).

Following is the English translation of meaningful lyrics and a dance performed by two Indian girls for the beautiful song..

Paint Our World GREEN..!!
(Rang De Hara – Hindi)

Let’s be the revolution
Color every emotion
Every breath, every touch
Every sound, every feeling
Don’t give up now
You know what it means
Let’s Paint Our World Green

The fabric of every being
Woven by nature’s green string
Into one weave, one beat
Let it resonate in every heartbeat

Come let’s color our emotions
Be the revolution
You know what it means
Let’s Paint Our World Green

Be inspired by the earth’s embrace
As she makes nature feel at home
When raindrops knock on her bosom
She opens her heart to blossom

So let’s color our emotions
Be the revolution
You know what it means
Let’s Paint Our World Green

O Nature – the fragrance of our lives
You fill every heart with bliss
You fill every river, every spring
Quenching every thirst, every being

For you, we color our emotions
Be the revolution
You know what it means
Let’s Paint Our World Green

Let’s be the revolution
Color every emotion
Every breath, every touch
Every sound, every feeling
Don’t give up now
You know what it means
Let’s Paint Our World Green
Let’s Paint Our World Green

Singer: Shubha Mudgal  | Music: Debojyoti Mishra  |  Lyrics: Sam Panchamukhi

The UNEP Message issued with WED Song

“The Color of Life” is a lyrical appeal, an emotional urge to refresh and breathe life into our world that is losing its green cover. It’s a song that celebrates nature through its vibrant color, capturing and remembering those refreshing moments that touch our senses.

Inspired by India’s vibrant spiritual heritage, the song is a heartfelt tribute to the ‘Spirit of Green’ that is deeply embedded in our consciousness and in our senses. It’s about coloring every emotion with the omnipresence of green. The song internalizes Nature and reminds us of the beauty, the splendor and fragrance of the green that embraces us. When we look deep within, we shall find our hearts beat for the lush green forests, because every breath, every touch, every feeling is connected to Nature.

Let’s feel the ‘Greenspiration’ of UNEP and ‘Paint Our World Green’

Dancing to the Rythms of Nature

June 8, 2011

Inline with World Environment Day, a traditional dancing event was held at Delhi Maart. The dance was done for the rythms of the nature..!!

Traditional dance for Nature’s Celebrations

 

World Environment Day 2011, Delhi

June 8, 2011

India has been the host country of the World Environment Day (WED) 2011. Inline with this, UNEP has conducted many programs in New Delhi together with the Indian Environment Ministry. The theme this year was “FORESTS: Nature at Your Service”.

Following are some of the moments captured during these events…!!

Kids were the center of WED celebrations 2011
A kid handing over a tree for a UNEP officer for planting at the WED
A tree planting campaign held at Delhi – with participation of UNEP head Achim Steiner and Indian Environment Minister
Participants at Tree planting event
Kids with UNEP’s head – Mr.Achim Steiner

Forests: Nature at Your Service

June 6, 2011
Today – June 5 is the World Environment Day. Your friends Puncha and Panchi continue their explorations at Sinharaja rainforest on this special day – By Malaka Rodrigo
The Sinharaja rainforest is always an interesting experience for the kids who are on the nature trail together with their family and Guide Uncle.“Aiya.. Aiya.. Look – there is a bird like Blu,” Panchi shouted, pointing at a beautiful blue coloured bird flying in the distance.

Puncha too remembered seeing the Blue coloured bird in the film RIO they had watched recently. “Blu is a Macaw and we don’t have them in Sri Lanka,” said Puncha scratching his head. “You are right. Blu is a Spix’s Macaw and they are found only in the Amazon Rainforest. This bird is a Blue Magpie – one of
Sri Lanka’s endemic birds living in the rainforest,” Guide Uncle said “There are many amazing creatures like Macaws that live in the tropical rainforests and they are part of these unique habitats which have lots of moisture,” Guide Uncle explained.

“Tropical Rainforests..? Does it rain all the time here..?” Panchi asked. “Tropical rainforests are forests with tall trees, a warm climate, and lots of rain. In some rainforests it rains more than one inch every day”, explained Guide Uncle. “Rainforests are found in Africa, Asia, Australia and Central and South America.”

“Do you know what is the largest rainforest in the world..?” asked Guide Uncle.“I know.. I know.. It is the Amazon rainforest” , shouted Puncha who had remembered it from a Discovery TV programme.
“Yes – Amazon is the largest rainforest. But rainforests are shrinking very fast. Although they cover less than 2% of the Earth’s surface, rainforests house more than 50% of the world’s plants and animals,” Guide Uncle said.

“Why do rainforests have such a big diversity Guide Uncle..?” questioned Panchi. “Well, rainforests are located in tropical regions where they receive a lot of sunlight throughout year. This sunlight is converted to energy by plants through the process of photosynthesis. Since there is a lot of sunlight, that means there is a lot of energy in the rainforest. This energy is stored in plant vegetation which is eaten by animals. Because there is a lot of food there are many species of plants and animals,” Guide Uncle answered. “The moisturized climate too provides many different habitats for small creatures to live in,” he added.

“So rainforests are more important than other forests? ” was Puncha’s question. “Well, not only rainforests, but all forests are important because of many reasons. Forests provide many important natural resources, such as timber, fuel, rubber, paper and medicinal plants. Forests also help sustain the quality and availability of freshwater supplies”, Guide Uncle elaborated.

“Do you know that more than three quarters of the world’s accessible freshwater comes from forested
catchments that capture water..?? Water quality declines with decreases in forest condition and cover, and natural hazards such as floods, landslides, and soil erosion have larger impacts.”

“I heard forests also help fight against Climate Change,” Puncha said. “Yes, it’s well known that forests play a key role in our battle against climate change. Trees in the forests suck in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in their process of making food and store the atmospheric carbon in their body. Carbon dioxide is believed to be a gas that increases Global Warming, so forests help to reduce it,” Guide Uncle explained.

“So forests are indeed nature at your service. Shall we move forward to explore more of the forest..?” said “Guide Uncle taking the kids forward to explore the forest for more amazing phenomena.

Kids, keep an eye on the Funday Times – Puncha and Panchi will explore more of forests in the next few weeks.

Published on FundayTimes on 05.06.2011

The Year to Save Forests, Bats and Biodiversity

January 15, 2011

Kids, we have just stepped into the New Year 2011. Do you remember that the past year 2010 was the International Year of Biodiversity..?

Naming a year for an important cause is a way used by the United Nations to pay more attention to that cause. But from recent years, there is more focus on Environment and taking the trend forward, UN has taken steps to dedicate 2011 for many environmental causes.

If you are curious to know more about these and be active partners in protecting the environment, keep on reading..!! Your favourite friends, Puncha & Panchie too will meet you in 2011 to explore more on biodiversity. So keep an eye on Funday Times and take a vow to do your part in 2011 to save our Forests, Bats and Biodiversity..!!

Wishing a happy new year to all the kids…!!

International Year of Forests 

Forests are very important habitats of the earth with an estimated 80% of land based animals and plants living in them. United Nations named 2011 as the International Year of Forests with the aim of raising awareness, strengthening sustainable forest management and protecting them for future
generations.

It is estimated that about 60% of the earth’s land area was once covered by forests. But due to the need of lands for agriculture, town houses, mining and logging, these forests are cut down. Now the global forest cover is only about 30%, but deforestation still continues. In Sri Lanka the present closed canopy forest cover has reduced to 22% of the land area.

During the Forest Year, try to visit at least a forest such as Sinharaja or Knuckles with your parents and experience the diversity in
them…!!

Focal point: United Nation’s Forum on Forests.

Decade of Biodiversity

Year 2010 has been the Year of Biodiversity, but recognizing the importance of paying more attention, the next decade starting from 2011 is also nominated as the Decade of Biodiversity by United Nations.

Biological Diversity is the difference between all the living things in the world. But due to many reasons, animals and plants are pushed toward extinction. World leaders are planning many things in order to protect earth’s valued biodiversity.

Focal point: UN Secretary General’s office

The Year of Bats

The Year of Bats The bat is one of the planet’s most misunderstood and mistreated mammals, so United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) together with the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS) has launched a two-year campaign to raise awareness on bats starting from 2011.

There are more than 1,100 bat species around the world. Insectivorous bats eat insects that can harm crops, so it is a friend of the farmers. When these bats decline in number, demands for dangerous pesticides grow, as does the cost of growing crops like rice.

Fruit and nectar-eating bats are equally important in maintaining whole ecosystems of plant life. In fact, their seed dispersal and pollination services are crucial to the regeneration of rain forests which are the lungs and rain makers of our planet.

Some bats must be visiting your garden too. Observe these creatures of the night carefully from a distance when you see them next time.

Focal point: UNEP and CMS

International Year of Chemistry

International Year of Chemistry 2011 is also the International Year of Chemistry. The goals of IYC2011 are to increase the public appreciation of chemistry in meeting world needs, to encourage interest in chemistry among young people, and to generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry.

Chemistry meets the global challenges of clean air, safe water, healthy food, eco-friendly products, renewable energy etc. So even though the Year of Chemistry is not a direct environment theme, this will also touch the environment.

Focal Point: UNESCO

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/110116/FunDay/fut_08.html Published on Junior Section – FundayTimes issued with SundayTimes

 

Unblocking more of Yala soon

January 10, 2011
As the Yala National Park, the country’s most visited wildlife sanctuary prepares to open hitherto closed sections of the park to the public, Malaka Rodrigo looks at the problem of over-visitation and the need for responsible tourism
.
The last phase of the war forced the closure of many of our national parks, including Yala. No sooner had the military given clearance, the public was allowed to access the country’s most popular National Park, but what many were unaware of was that it was only a part of the Yala wilderness that they could visit. The area opened was Block I.Now comes the news that the remaining sections of Yala National Park will also be thrown open to the public soon by the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC).”We are planning to open the remaining sections of Yala National Park gradually. In line with the ‘Deyata Kirula’ exhibition that will be held at Buttala, Block III will be open in February,” said Director General (DG) of the DWC, Dr. Chandrawansa Pathiraja. The DG said wildlife officers were already engaged in preparing the infrastructure such as building the road network in Block II and III as well as visitor facilities like camp sites together with a few bungalows.

Pix by Mevan Piyasena
Spectacular sand dune at Yala
More chance of bear sightings

Some wildlife lovers who frequently visit Yala welcomed the news and the chance to revisit old haunts.

“Poththana Beach in Yala Block II was one of my favourites in Yala,” said Mevan Piyasena, a field naturalist and wildlife photographer. He recalls large sand dunes in the area which constantly shifted with the wind. Mevan also remembers seeing large herds of deer during his last visits in early 2000. “Some of the herds consisted of more than 100 deer and as a photographer, there was always some special movement to capture,” said Mevan.

Yala Block II has a large stretch of beach as it abuts the sea. It also has large open areas with several natural water holes and man-made ones. There are several streams or ‘ara’s that flow across it. Block II is also of archaeological value and has signs that Yala was part of an ancient civilization. There are ruins of a stupa, and a few stone pillars that visitors can see.

Block III which is also in line to be opened soon has some ruins and cave dwellings containing ‘brahmi’ inscriptions. The vegetations in these blocks is also a bit different to Block I though the concentration of wildlife is not as much as Block I. However, some areas in these blocks are good for bear- sightings according to the trackers.

“The opening of the Block II and III will help to reduce the pressure of over-visitation of Block I a little,” says Namal Kamalgoda, another wildlife photographer who also voices concerns over conservation. Namal, who has been a a fan of Yala now doesn’t go into the park as frequently as he did in the past. “Yala Block I is simply overcrowded and you cannot enjoy the wildlife’s uniqueness that way. Such crowds also spell harassment to the animals,” he says.

Namal believes opening of these areas will also protect the park from illegal activities like poaching and cannabis chena cultivation which occurs in areas less frequented.

Yala Block II has now been open for some time and some have already begun visiting these areas. But most of them are 4 wheel drivers looking for adventure and Namal highlighted the need for responsible off-road driving in these national parks which are environmentally sensitive. “Recently I had to shout at an off-roader who was ready to drive through a villu in Wilpattu. Villus are unique ecosystems that could be damaged by these kind of activities. Even the open areas of Kumana are now full of tyre-tracks which disrupt the natural settings,” he says.

Manori Gunawardana, another wildlife enthusiast involved in the conservation of Yala stresses the need to regularize visitation. “We have a good opportunity for tourism, but it shouldn’t be done in a haphazard way,” she said. She says visitation should also be managed properly to maintain the serenity of the national parks.

Opening up of new areas requires more wildlife officers and trackers to accompany the visitors. Block-I has been managed for decades, but infrastructure in most of the other areas should be looked into and developed accordingly she says.

It is clear that the opening of new areas will bring inevitable challenges to the DWC. Most of the other blocks are accessible only with 4 wheel drive vehicles, and there is much road development to be done to make it accessible to the general public. Dr. Pathiraja said the DWC staff is working hard to build these facilities.

2011 is also being considered as the Year of Wildlife Development said Wildlife and Agrarian Minister S.M.Chandrasena. Rs.513 million has been allocated in the budget for development of the National Parks and DWC is planning lots of development activities. “Opening of the remaining sections of Yala is also part of this plan,” says the DG. Deputy Director of the Southern Region P.M. Dharmathilake said there is a plan to combine some of the area and name them as ‘Yala North’.

Conservationists point out that the economic value that can be gained by nature-based tourism can have a positive impact on actions to protect these animals, but also highlight the dangers of mass tourism. “It is a good thing to recognize the potential of wildlife, but wildlife is a resource that can deplete due to over-exploitation like in other industries, if not managed properly,” points out Manori Gunawardane. The nature-loving tourist does lots of research before visiting a country, and in this digital era, bad experiences promptly accessible to a wide audience through blog postings and Facebook updates can tarnish Sri Lanka’s image as a wildlife hotspot.

Clearly there is much to be done before the opening of the remaining sections of Yala National Park. Most importantly visitors have a larger responsibility not to harass the animals in their eagerness to explore more of Yala’s terrain.

Published on SundayTimes on 09.01.2011 http://www.sundaytimes.lk/110109/Plus/plus_06.html 

A ‘natureful’ New Year

January 4, 2011
EFL’s 2011 calendar gives a timely message on protecting Sri Lanka’s heritage and biodiversity..
 
This is the time of year when everyone is on the hunt for a good calendar that they will be happy to have around for the next 12 months. Its pages will be turned monthly allowing 12 new images to catch owner’s eyes. So a calendar is indeed a creative way to reach the public and the Environmental Foundation Ltd. (EFL) has used their 2011 calendar to pass a timely message of the need to protect Sri Lanka’s natural heritage and biodiversity.The EFL calendar contains beautiful images – Kudrimalai in Wilpattu, Sinharaja, Horton Plains, Kumana, starfish in Kalpitiya and underwater images of the ocean off Colombo among them. “A photograph is worth a thousand words” seems justified when turning the pages of this calendar. Each page highlights an environmental issue while educating the general public on it.

The first page of January features the breathtaking scenery of Kudrimalai Point, Wilpattu photographed from its beach. The text introduces this famed spot. “Situated in Wilpattu, this historic spot is now under threat from ad hoc development, including roads that are splitting the park apart and with human settlements encroaching on its fringes”. It is indeed an effective way to communicate the message of the need to protect Wilpattu which has been plagued for nearly three decades by security issues, and now with the dawn of peace, is facing its greatest threat.

“We had handpicked this Kudrimalai picture for our calendar,” said Venuri de Silva, Head of Communications and Fundraising Manager of Environmental Foundation Ltd. (EFL). The team had seen this photo through the Facebook Group set up to save Wilpattu and photographer Ifham Raji willingly contributed it for the calendar.

EFL used a photograph of Kudrimalai Point for their 2010 calendar too. Last year it was a view taken from the sea by Vimukthi Weeratunga showing the beautiful coastal forest together with the red sands of Kudrimalai. “As per the news we’ve got, this scene is no more as the coastal areas near Kudrimalai too has been axed for the so-called Wilpattu road expansion,” said Venuri. So threats indicated in the text are not to be taken lightly.

The other photographs too are exceptional images. Starfish on the beach in Kalpitiya were captured in an image by Deshan Tennekoon on the little island of Vellai off Battalagunduwa. These starfish are still not rare, but the message is a reminder that they could be threatened. “Development, if carried out ignoring established environmental safeguards, will destroy delicate ecosystems and with it, Kalpitiya’s major tourist potential within years.”

This is the third consecutive year that EFL has printed a calendar to highlight Sri Lanka’s unique biodiversity. Funds raised through the sale of the calendar will support EFL’s conservation battle through lawsuits they are currently mounting. For more inquiries call on 011- 7396702 or email your orders to efl@sltnet.lk.

publishd on SundayTimes on 02.01.2011

2011: Year of Forests & Dawn of Decade of Biodiversity

January 1, 2011

New Year 2011 is declared as the INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF FORESTS by United Nations. The decade starting from 2011 is also going to be the DECADE OF BIODIVERISTY. May the new year be a meaningful Year of Forests marking the dawn of Decade of Biodiversity with Earth’s valueble Biodiversity be conserved..!!