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Monday, 12 August 2019 19:24

WNPS and DWC partner Abans to combat deforestation

Being one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, Sri Lanka possesses a large proportion of endemic species and dense forests. One of the country’s most significant wildlife habitats is the Attidiya-Bellanwila region, which is home to unique plant and animal species. Yet, this region is under the threat of degradation and extinction of its species due to increased urbanisation, poaching, and deforestation.

LG and Abans announced that the Wildlife Nature and Protection Society, the third oldest environmental organisation of its kind in the world which was instrumental in setting up the first national parks in Sri Lanka, partnered with them to promote a cause fundamental to the survival of the natural world – the mass-scale planting of trees. The other partner, which is of extreme importance, is the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), the statutory guardian of wildlife and the protected areas they inhabit. The DWC has custody of 12% of the landmass of Sri Lanka, and it has a vital role to play in preserving the natural heritage of this country.

The Green Isle Project was launched on 7 August at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Attidiya. The project will focus on combating habitat loss, which has been identified as a major threat towards the continued survival of Sri Lanka’s unique position as a biodiversity hotspot. Additionally, the project will raise awareness of the importance of sustaining the delicate balance of the Sri Lankan ecosystem; a necessity not only for the continued existence of our country’s wildlife, but also, as stated above, that of the local human population.

Over 200 environmental activists, educators, and students took part in planting more than 1,000 trees in the Attidiya-Bellanwila Sanctuary. They were aided by Abans’ 50-member environment volunteer taskforce. University of Colombo Prof. Dr. Iroja Caldera also conducted a seminar for students on the significant role that the Green Isle Project will play in alleviating several of Sri Lanka’s key environmental issues.

Proposed actions for this project will include habitat enrichment via a massive tree-replanting scheme of over 30,000 trees, enabling the gradual replacement of invasive plant species, the revitalisation of small canals, as well as the clearing out of weeds and other debris. A 3.5 km nature trail will also be developed to enable wildlife enthusiasts, researchers, educators, and schoolchildren to observe and study Attidiya’s native species from a safe distance.