- Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Flora Identification field workshop,Tree plantation and Awareness Program at Belihul Oya

On Sunday 10th June a group of YBA members left Colombo around 2.30 am to reach Wedawaththa, Belihuloya.The plan was to conduct a field workshop on identification of flora and also a tree plantation & awareness program for the school children of the locality on the following day.

After morning tea the place was shown around by Mr. Damith which is managed by Jinasena (Pvt) Ltd. A group of 25 participants including YBA members, staff and students of University of Sabaragamuwa were already gathered and the workshop was kick started with a lecture By Mr. Himesh Jayasinghe, on identification of flora of Sri Lanka
After pausing for breakfast, lecture on Bio mimicry by Dr Sampath wahala, former president of YBA was followed up.

During lunch, we could experience an interesting practice from the folk culture. An empty coconut shell was kept on a pole to collect the leftovers of the meal.one could only spare an amount enough to fill the coconut shell, an ingenious way of minimizing food waste.
Evening was a field session gaining hands on experience on what is spoken in the morning lectures. We took trails in groups and the plants in the locality were observed and identified referring to their structural and functional aspects.
The landscape could be viewed from a view point at higher ground and organic farming area of Jinasena (Pvt) Ltd could be seen below.
We arrived back at the camping site by dusk and tents were put up for the night. The weather was clear but the seasonal strong winds were in turbulence.
After freshening up we gathered back in the tent and the discussions went from what we experienced in the field sessions, application of natural structures and processes, and to the evolution of YBA in 20 years and future plans. Wrapping it up for the day, everyone had dinner and some rest.
The dawn was a fresh start of a big day. As we planned, around 50 school children of the locality, including environmental pioneers of Belihuloya Dhammarathana Maha Vidyalaya, R/ Muththettuwegama Vidyalaya and R/Karagasthalawa Vidyalaya came to join the outdoor activity. After serving some breakfast for the kids, the tree planting program was briefed by Mr.Sameera Bandara of CEA.
Ms.Disna Magahamage, current president of YBA talked about outdoor activities and field sessions, maintaining field notes, field ethics and Mr. Himesh Jaysinghe and Mr.Menan Jayarathne also joined in speaking on the importance of being aware of natural environment around us and on How to respect and be close towards nature.
Senior Environment officer of CEA, Mr.W.V Wickremasinghe also spoke to the kids on gaining the maximum benefits of the program as Environment pioneers
The saplings of Kumbuk (Terminalia Arjuna) and Mee (Madhuca longifolia) were planted along the water stream at the margin of forest and the land.
Then the young enthusiasts were taken on a nature trail which they quiet enjoyed and were curiously observing every little puddle they came across.

Coming back to the camp site, a little quiz activity was held on what they learnt throughout the day. After being awarded with certificates appreciating their participation, the environmental pioneers promised to save nature with their oath and dismissed after singing their anthem.

After cleaning up the camping site,we packed up and headed back to Colombo,with  hearts full of hopes, that the saplings that were planted, and the thoughts of being sensitive towards nature in the little ones hearts, would be nurtured alike.

Special Thanks

For Resource Persons,
Dr. Sampath Bandara Wahala - Member of Advisory Board of Young Biologists' Association, Sri Lanka. (Senior Lecturer, Course Co-ordinator of Eco business Management Special Degree Program, Faculty of Management Studies, Sabaragamuwa University)
Mr. Himesh Jayasinghe - Freelance field Ecologist and researcher (Irrigation Engineer, Founder of Butterfly Conservation Society of Sri Lanka & Nature Team- University of Moratuwa)
Mr. Menan Jayarathne - A Member of Advisory Board, Young Biologists' Association, Sri Lanka. (Environmental Manager at Siam City Cement (Lanka) Limited)
Director General of Central Environment Authority  
Mr. Sameera Bandara of Central Environmental Authority
Coordinator & the Staff of Jinasena [Pvt] Ltd, Belihuloya - "Wedawaththa" camping site
Staff and students of University of Sabaragamuwa
And to all the participants

Notes by - Samudra De Silva
Image Courtesy - Randima Mahagamage, Eranda Weerakkody, Seshan Bandurathne

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