Expedition and Education Workshop for School Children to Protect Sinharaja RainforestMarch 5, 2018 – A three day expedition and education workshop was held from March 2 to 4th at Sinharaja Kudawa conservation centre to teach students the importance and bio-diversity of Sinharaja world heritage rainforest, current issues and its conservation. The workshop was organized by Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka together with Kalawana National Environment Foundation with sponsorship provided by Persistent Systems Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. Fifty school children from 5 schools in Kalawana Divisional Secretariat along with 10 teachers participated at this workshop.
Participants learned through wildlife conservation officer Mr. Tharanga Dammika on how to prepare for a field visit to the rainforest, observing flora & fauna and note taking. Mr. Supun Deshaprema from Galle Wildlife Conservation Soceity gave a valuable lesson on observing fish and other freshwater species, identifying native and invasive fish, and the need to protect freshwater species. Retired Director of Customs Bio-Diversity Unit Mr. Samantha Gunasekera gave an excellent bird watching tour including identifying endemic species and how to observe them. Mr. Gunasekera later gave a speech to all including the Government officers present, on the growing issue of bio-theft especially around Sinharaja rainforest.
A certificate award ceremony was held on the last day with several important speeches given. Kalawana Divisional Secretary Ms. G.D.L. Udayakumari explained that due to the destruction of forests, soil extraction and sand mining around Sinharaja, the occurrence of disasters such as droughts and landslides have increased dramatically in recent times and asked everyone’s support to protect the environment. Kalawana Divisional Educational Director Mr. S. Koswatte in his speech said the workshop is a timely initiative and that by organizing such events regularly, we can not only increase the knowledge of school children but also their attitude towards environment conservation. Mr. Jayantha Wijesinghe, chief coordinator of Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka spoke and informed the attendees that the organization is ready to do similar programmes towards the benefit of all school children within close proximity to Sinharaja World Heritage Rainforest.
Due to harmful human activities, all forests in Sri Lanka including Sinharaja World Heritage Rainforest and freshwater eco-systems are being gradually destroyed. It is clear that the droughts, floods and landslides encountered in our country more frequently and with high severity in recent times cannot be considered as “natural disasters” anymore and that these are increasingly becoming man-made disasters. Destruction of the environment is more often caused due to ignorance, short-term monetary and political gains. To stop this cycle of destruction, it is everyone’s duty to teach our next generation to learn and appreciate the eco-system services provided by nature and encourage them to protect it.