Beauty of biodiversity | Daily News

Beauty of biodiversity


The world we live in today is fast losing its biodiversity. Trees that give us the very air we breathe are being cut down, trees that are so important for our survival. Many animal species are on the very verge of extinction.

This is because leaders today have forgotten. And if tomorrow’s leaders also forget the importance of protecting our biodiversity, then the world will one day be literally lifeless. But we can help our children remember. And this is what the Oneness Garden located in Nawala is going to do. It will teach our children the beauty of biodiversity. It will teach our children how essential biodiversity is to our survival. This garden plot will remind them of all of this. And then tomorrow’s leaders will respect nature. Green Thumbs speaks to Poonam Vijaykumar who owns a private plot called the Oneness Garden in Nawala that focuses on rebuilding soil, reducing waste, and replenishing the biodiversity that we are losing so fast as Colombo becomes more urbanized.

Poonam Vijaykumar

The ancient Egyptians knew the value of gardens. It meant everything to them we are told by reliable sources. Gardens were almost spiritual to them. Temples were the houses of specific deities or places of memory of deceased kings. Gardens here not only provided the offerings and provisions necessary for the daily cult program, but also embodied symbolism and myth. Different types of trees, for example, were associated with certain deities and their inclusion in the garden paid homage to them. (

The fruit orchards, vegetable gardens and pleasure gardens of Egypt were irrigated by the Nile. Even today, a large portion of Egypt’s population remain close to their precious Nile.

“The Oneness Garden is being opened to the public as a community garden project. The team is using principles of organic gardening and permaculture to develop the space. The aim of this project is to increase access to nature in urban neighborhoods by setting up an urban garden dedicated to learning, cultivating and sharing initiatives to raise awareness about the interconnectedness of ourselves and our planet. We envision permaculture for urban home gardens, sustainable and regenerative practices, health and wellbeing through the relevant arts, philosophies, sciences and technologies in a non-profit oriented self-sustaining model,” pointed out Poonam Vijaykumar.

The team hopes to create a soothing green space that will inspire more people to learn and grow even within a small urbanized space. The project is a 100 percent organic venture. They are using waste from the Kollupitiya vegetable market, sawdust from wooden flooring factories and hope to extend taking in waste from the neighborhood.

There is no doubt that even though Colombo is in danger of becoming a cement jungle, there are many youth in Colombo who take this threat very seriously. They are committed to protecting nature and biodiversity in Sri Lanka.

“The difference in our project is, it will be an open house community project with neighbors walking in sharing, learning and recycling their home waste. Many ideas spring up when we work together as a community. We invite anyone with expertise or interest to work with us, learn from us and most importantly teach us and share in the fruits of our labor (literally). We want to introduce the idea of Oneness even in ownership of our natural resources and that as Sri Lankans we can gain an appreciation for our natural resources.”

There are many unique features in this project. Rebuilding filled soil is one. Usually landscapers will bring in new soil and completely reshape the land based on their designs. So we are taking the slow steady approach and painstakingly building up our soil health and simultaneously reducing waste to landfill.

“We are learning – where the water goes, what plants and animals already call this space a home and trying to help nature take her course. This approach takes time but the economic inputs are at a minimum. It only takes patience and care to work with mother nature and she doesn’t ask for much in return. We are creating a biodiversity zone in the garden to attract beneficial insects, birds and butterflies. A pond will also bring in the frogs and snakes. The resilient ecosystem will encourage predators for the harmful insects and animals. For example, rat snakes will keep the rat population under control so we can save a few more of our bathala and manioc crop!,” explained Vijaykumar.

This project is about growing fruits and vegetables for consumption as well as learning. This is valuable especially for children who grow up in the city. They will be able to learn about where their food comes from. It is also good for waste management. The team will be including a larger composting and food waste management section with a goal to cover the needs of the neighborhood. It will also increase and support biodiversity.

“Based on the naturally occurring zones, we have sunnier dry areas, wetter shady areas and a pond. We already see a difference in the species of plants and butterflies based on these zones and are planning our planting accordingly. The project is 100 percent beginner friendly. We are all beginners hoping to learn from each other and share knowledge. We want the Oneness Garden to be known as a small sample of wonders in Oneness. The Oneness in varied flora and fauna. There is the Oneness in us humans of what we can achieve if we just come together. Outdoor spaces are so crucial for children to grow and breathe. So much value can be added by having gardens in the midst of living spaces. You can follow us on Instagram and message us if you would like to volunteer.”

The project has so much potential. Though still in its early stages, this is exactly what Colombo needs. “We are still in the preliminary stage in this project, but the journey in the actual doing and practicing and seeing the soil replenishing has been tremendous. The team is myself and Shahera Omar who is an amateur permaculture enthusiast and the expertise is from Metta Gardens and various volunteers. This concept cropped up when as a friend Angelica Chandrasakeran, Teesha Wickramatunga and Rachel Chanmugam were looking to introduce a ‘Tiny Forest’ type plot in Colombo. We had our first volunteer event to start the garden and Rachel drew up an initial garden plan based on analog forestry principles,” says Vijaykumar.


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