Revive earth | Daily News


Revive earth

Children planting trees Pictures by Ruwan De Silva
Children planting trees Pictures by Ruwan De Silva

The amount of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere has reached dangerous levels. In our world trees are being cut down at a terrifying rate. In this time of crisis, there are those who are ready to fight for this earth we all live in.

Green Through Cricket is such an initiative. Chief Organizer and Environmentalist Ralph Gunawardena, is the live wire behind and it is basically a group of people who care about the environment. Recently they held a tree planting programme at the Sri Lankan Foundation Institute partnered by the SLFI.

Green Through Cricket

“If we do not act now and deal with this problem of global warming we will pay the price and our future generations will also pay the price for our sins due to our negligence and indifference towards nature. Thus Tree planting is important. Today we will be planting 45 trees symbolic of this Green Through Cricket programme. The plan is to plant ten trees for every world cup run. The performances of the Sri Lankan cricketers will add nearly 25,000 trees. We will start planting from October 1, which is the official tree planting month. We will plant 1,000 trees in every district with the participation of the state universities and local schools,” Gunawardena said.

Gunawardena outlined the plan to go from district to district with the help of all the State Universities who have agreed to support this programme. They will invite 20 local schools. The students will be educated and given 50 plants, which they will take back and plant. They will look after it for two years. Each plant will be given the name of the person who planted the tree. The student will be able to visit the tree years from now, and show his/her grandchildren the tree. It will be a very moving and touching experience.

“The reason that it is called Green Through Cricket, is because cricket is connected to the environment. Bats, bails and wickets all come from the tree. We also have plans for Vihara Maha Devi Park. The members of Vihara Maha Devi Park have decided to create an ‘urban forest’, at the four corners. They will invite all the Colombo Schools, so that they may create an urban forest within the school premises,” Gunawardena said.

Preserving environment

Chairman Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Sarath Kongahage, called it a commendable effort. He mentioned that it was really launched in Killinochchi with the assistance of the University of Jaffna.

“We saw the planting of 1,500 trees. But due to various logistical reasons we could not take it any further. But today we are re-introducing this concept. SLFI is playing a vital role. I feel that this concept needs to be taken to the people. The message of protecting our environment and preserving it needs to be given to the children. Human beings must act like animals because animals do not destroy nature. Through their behavior they add to nature. That is the simplest way and the only way to protect our environment,” he said.

Movie Director, Chandran Rutnam, said that it is important that the next generation also inherit a world that is alive with flora and fauna. “Planting a tree is a gift to the world. We need to play our part and grow as many trees as possible. We need to make a small contribution. But that contribution made by many people creates a force for good. So it is very important that we start now. Deforestation is alarming and it has terrible consequences. I also feel that we need convince world leaders to all play their part,” said Rutnam.

Former Cricketer Roshan Mahanama, said it is essential we rally around and support these causes. “I am the Brand Ambassador for SOS Children’s Villages, and they have told me this year, that for World Children’s Day, they will be having a low key event, which would be a tree planting event. They will grow trees in six villages. They want to have an event to plant the trees. We need to give the next generation a better world to live in. Being a grandfather myself I understand this necessity. These types of projects can get the message across in a powerful way. We all have a responsibility to protect and preserve mother- nature. We need to rise against deforestation,” said Mahanama.

Involving children

Ministry of Mahaweli Development, Sugath Dharmakeerthi, stressed that the importance of planting trees should be inculcated in children and that it is essential for the media to take this message out to the public.

“The main objective should be to increase the forest cover of the country up to 32 per cent of the total country land area. To reach the target we need to address many issues. We need to undertake land acquisitions and replant trees in barren lands. The theme of this World Environment Day is to address air pollution. But the theme was changed by the Ministry of Environment so it would be Sustainable Forest Conservation to Address Air Pollution,” said Dharmakeerthi.

Entrepreneur, Gotabaya Sumanasena, said this event is a wake -up call for everyone. He stressed that the fight is to preserve and protect our flora and fauna.

“In our urban environment we can feel the need for trees. We can feel the urgency. We can understand the consequences of cutting down trees. In our environment the amount of oxygen is low. We need to grow more trees. I think without throwing away the mango and mangosteen seeds into rubbish bins, they can be thrown on to the sides of the road, where they will plant themselves and grow. This is of course a very productive habit when you are traveling outstation. The trees that grow will be of immense benefit - giving food, shade, oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide,” Sumanasena said.

Head Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, University of Colombo, Deepthi Wickramasinghe, commented on the hidden value of trees, because most often we see what is only above the ground. She pointed out that a tree is nature’s infrastructure that gives cooling and shelter.

“Apart from all this, it provides us with the free oxygen that we breathe; it sucks in the Carbon Dioxide. We know that climate change happens due to the excess Carbon Dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. A tree is a gift of nature absorbing Carbon Dioxide. By planting more trees we can reduce the carbon dioxide concentration. It also performs more eco system services for free. Because of the tree covering the soil beneath it is protected reducing soil erosion. It brings balance to the environment. Planting a tree in your backyard can help to abate climate change, because if we can all do this, that will contribute a lot,” Wickramasinghe said.

Cricketer from New Zealand, Joe Bradley is on a cricket scholarship from New Zealand and stays in Moratuwa. He met Gunawardena at the Moratuwa stadium.

“I am a volunteer from New Zealand with the Cricket Life Foundation in Moratuwa and I met Ralph. I really liked this programme of his. New Zealand is a very green country. We pride ourselves on our flora and fauna. I really appreciate what Ralph has done. These little steps can make a huge change. I think this is an excellent way to get the message across that we need to protect nature and fight climate change because it is really a terrible issue,” said Bradley.

Former Head of Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, Colombo University, Prof. Wipula Yapa, put things in perspective when he said that trees were here long before humans arrived on the planet.

“Unfortunately our forests are vanishing from the earth because of our actions. The best way to do something about it is to raise awareness. Planting trees is very important. About 100 years ago, 70 per cent of Sri Lanka was covered by forests, and today it has come down to 30 per cent. The rate of our tree planting is not sufficient. We need to work harder and turn the situation around. I am very optimistic about programmes like this. We need to work with our younger generation,” said Yapa.

Senior Lecturer in Zoology, Zoology and Environment Sciences Department Colombo University, Dr. Sampath Seneviratne, stated that for a city to be modern, progressive, developed and healthy you need to have trees because they represent real wealth and a good quality of life.

“CO2 is heavy and it stays and accumulates around the city. People and Vehicles all emit CO2. A city badly needs oxygen. CO2 traps the heat from the sun, so with an increased amount of CO2, it is definitely not a healthy environment for people. If you have trees, the temperature naturally comes down since trees absorb CO2. Trees are natural air purifiers and controllers. Colombo needs trees along the roads, canal systems and railway lines. Because of a lack of trees the cities get warmer,” said Seneviratne.

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