Ruk Rakaganno – The Tree Society of Sri Lanka Deserving Recognition and Support

Ruk Rakaganno – The Tree Society of Sri Lanka  Deserving Recognition and Support

15 Mar

Ruk Rakaganno – The Tree Society of Sri Lanka Deserving Recognition and Support

Hanne Lund Madsen, Sustainability Director, Forward Advice, Denmark

Sri Lanka was recently awarded international recognition at the United Nations Environmental Assembly, Nairobi, for its flagship initiative to restore mangroves in Puttalam in northwest region of Sri Lanka.

The ecological reforestation project by Ruk Rakaganno in the borderlands of the Singharaja Rainforest Reserve, a world heritage site, is also deserving recognition and support.

As a Sustainability Professional I am impressed with the perseverance of Ruk Rakaganno that since 1975 has mobilized volunteers to conserve nature and advocate to protect the environment. Their determination and continued efforts have now materialized in the reforestation project in Suduwalipotha in the southwest region of Sri Lanka.

Quick destruction – long and complicated reforestation

During my visit I was reminded of how much it takes to bring back eco-balance! The felling of the original rainforest 50 years back was quick. It was undertaken in joint-venture by the Canadian and Sri Lanka Government with the purpose of producing plywood. This destruction of unique rainforest and ecosystems ignited the foundation of the Ruk Rakaganno to protest this development. Now, after several decades, Ruk Rakaganno has succeeded to launch a unique and exemplary public- private partnership to undertake an ecological forest restoration in an area of 59 acres with 70 different indigenous forest species. In total 19.000 plants have been planted.

The exemplary features of the project are:

• a civic driven initiative that has endured to result in significant changes

• engaging key stakeholders including the Forest Department, the private sector, the local communities, and the university of Colombo

• fostering community ownership using the expertise to establish satellite forest plant nurseries and involvement of the community to produce the nursery plants and to establish analog/border forestry suitable for income-generation

• an educational approach investing in sharing knowledge about the complexities of the rainforest both to the local communities and to the public through Walking Tours at the reforestation project

• a scientific approach both in designing the plantation strategy (stratification plan) and in ongoing monitoring of the progress of the project

• educating the school children of the neighborhood of the value of ecological re forestation

• a fundraising strategy ensuring the financial support from John Kells Holdings as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility Programme

Long term commitment and support is needed.

It is evident that the project has performed well during the four years and that a long-term commitment is needed- especially as it takes approximately over 15 years or more before the planted rainforest can endure on its own. Ruk Rakaganno has applied to the Forest Department for approval of extension of the project and continued support is also needed from the other involved stakeholders to make this young rainforest survive.

A sincere thanks for invitation to the Cinnamon Reforestation Project to President of Ruk Rakaganno, Dushy Perera; Prof. Mayuri Wijesinghe & PhD student Nimashi Fernando, Faculty of Science, University of Colombo and Project Manager Rohan Pandipperuma.

Ruk Rakaganno

By Ruk Rakaganno

Ruk Rakaganno is a volunteer based, non-governmental organization founded in 1975 implementing hands-on projects to conserve nature and advocate to protect and conserve the environment.