Galle Rainforest one of the best in Sri Lanka
As visitors flock to Sri Lanka in search of the winter sun this
season, the best gift they can give us (besides the tourism revenue) is
planting trees to offset their carbon emissions accumulated when they
travel. While many airlines have carbon credit mechanisms to help
travellers to do just this, others like ClimateCare.org actually help
you calculate your carbon emissions so that you know how much you
actually released into the atmosphere.
Sri Lanka has experienced one of the highest deforestation rates of
primary forests in the world for the past 15 years. During that period,
the country has lost more than 35 percent of its old-growth forest
cover, while the total forest cover was reduced by nearly 18 percent.
The bad news is that by the 1990s, deforestation rates have increased by
more than 25 percent and it is continuing at an alarming rate.
So not only can travellers set the good example of planting trees,
this will impel many communities who depend on the environment to revive
their relationship with Mother Nature. The effects of global warming can
also be significantly reduced if this 'tree-planting' policy is
With major initiatives like the Sri Lanka's Tourist Board concept of
projecting Sri Lanka as an Earth Lung, other projects steered by various
clubs (Lions, Rotaract, etc) to have rainforest restoration programmes
around the island together with local schools have good benefits only if
communities implement it.
The Responsible Tourism Partnership supports the 'Trees for Life
Programme' where carbon offsetting can be done at the Hiyara Rainforest
which not only offsets CO2 emissions but will also provide staple food
and valuable timber for locals in the long term.
Tourists can visit the Bio-Diversity Centre, plant nursery and can be
familiar with Sri Lankan medicinal, fruit, timber, indigenous and forest
plants. The 'Trees for Life' program has been successful in planting
over 100, 000 trees in Galle to restore the environment.
Deia Bakanauskaite, a tourist from the UK, planted six trees at
Rainforest Rescue International's restoration project to offset her
carbon emissions and she said she enjoyed every second of it despite
getting soil on her hands.
Another tourist, Ross who did the same, said that he was happy he did
the right thing by planting a tree because Sri Lanka's rainforests are
beautiful and getting involved in the whole carbon offsetting process
Charith Senanayake, the CEO of Rainforest Rescue International (RRI)
said "Hindiduma is a biodiversity hotspot because the 'Alliance for Zero
Extinction' has placed this as a top habitat for six per cent of the
world species of amphibians making it highly endemic and endangered".
The Sri Lanka arm of the IUCN has also sanctioned that 'Haycock Hill-Hiniduma
Forest Reserve' needs to be protected since it is a very important
Critically endangered Whistling Shrub
Frog, an endemic species of Haycock Forest
Ajantha, an eco-tour guide and naturalist with the RRI, said "The
biodiversity hotspot of 'Hiniduma Kandah' or Haycock along with
Sinharaja and Kanneliya make up an essential part of rainforest cover
that needs to be protected. They are presently in rainforest patches due
to development so it is vital that reforestation joins these patches
together otherwise the endemic species would have little chance to
survive". He said that by planting trees, reforestation will sustain the
flora and fauna. "Endangered animals like the Malabar Tree Toad and the
Black Microhylid need a proper nature-friendly habitat or else they will
eventually be extinct" he said.
The aim of RRI is to have projects that go hand-in-hand with the
community development and this was involvement with the Galle community
was significant in order to steer it forward. By making partnerships
with communities and government authorities, the project was successful
in even igniting interest from school children.
The Wildlife Conservation Society of Galle has recently concluded a
comprehensive study on the wildlife in Galle and president of the
society, Madura de Silva gave valuable insights on it. He said "We
discovered 4 new species of freshwater fish and 3 new species of
amphibians which proves that some of Sri Lanka's best biodiversity is
prevalent in Galle".
The survey was done in six months which was deemed successful as
there was an overwhelming discovery that new species were catalogued,
most of them believed to be endemic.
When tourists offset their carbon emissions by planting trees, this
sets the best example for communities to follow suit. In addition to
this, children also have to realise that it is they who will suffer at
the end of the day due to the damaging effects of global warming.
Without repeating the mistakes of their ancestors, we all should live
in peace and harmony with Mother Nature and develop in a sustainable
Rainforest Rescue International
Based in Galle, Rainforest Rescue International's (RRI) aim is to
actively demonstrate sustainable principles and promote biodiversity
conservation within the local community, through environmental education
and other extension activities.
They hope to reintroduce the concept of sustainable livelihood to the
people of the rainforest. By partnering with the Galle Literary Festival
last year through the 'kick the CO2 habit' environment campaign to help
reduce carbon emissions, RRI have been at the helm of promoting a
sustainable and nature-friendly environment.
In order to promote the need for natural biodiversity conservation
within the local community, RRI seeks to assist and network
environmentally concerned individuals and organisations, within Sri
Lanka and internationally for the increased understanding and
implementation of global biodiversity principles.
RRI achieves these aims through the creation of commercially viable
projects that explore the social and cultural relationships between
people and ecology in the past, present and future.
The projects consider the point of view of the consumer, producer and
ecologist, thereby establishing a common ground through transparency and
mutual understanding. RRI is an organisation with a strong ethical
background and sound business management procedures where they plan to
develop nurseries for the purpose of re-establishment of endemic plant
species in areas where the natural ecosystem has been adversely
They already work with the Galle district where schools and other
institutions undertake educational programs with local communities, for
example tree planting programs to increase local awareness of endemic
plants and their inherent value to the community.
RRI also aims to contribute to the tropical forest scientific
knowledge base through multi disciplinary field based projects and
applied research. - ND
Every frog must croak
That is no joke
Agile is the lowly frog
Eating insects, leaving bugs, mosquitoes agog
They live in water, slime, gook
Ugly, ugly face of a spook
Green, grey or brown, they populate the ground
Frog legs are sold and eaten by the pound
Jump, glide around, sit still
Croak often, loud and shrill
Water is the key to their life
They procreate, sleep, avoid danger, strife
Little or big they struggle to survive
Even a frog is happy to be alive
Some become road kill
Or a snake's belly they fill
They have lived, they have died
Some rot, some are fried
Dissected in the lab by a sharp knife
Warts and all, a vital link in the chain of life
- Mahfooz Ali