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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Polwaththa's Forest Healing Project



It has been 8 years since the Ellegala family (Sri Lankan/Dutch) started Polwaththa Eco-Lodges in their ancestral village near Kandy, Sri Lanka. The prime objectives of this venture was to protect the environment and uplift the livelihood of the villages which was achieved by hiring rooms to tourists. However, the surrounding lands were subject to deforestation by the owners of those lands for quick money which sadly continues even today. Although "buying" their trees to ensure the survival of the trees met with limited success, the only practical and permanent solution was to purchase their (now barren) lands for re-forestation. 

With a generous contribution - in both funds and expertise from Henk Kieft from the Netherlands, the Forest Healing Project (FHP) was launched in October 2016 with the purchase of 2 hectares (5.5 acres) of barren land close to Polwaththa Eco-Lodges. Within the first 3 months, almost 300 new plants were planted, consisting of large forest trees - some endemic, wild flowering trees, Arabica coffee and a range of fruit trees, complete with protective nets against damage from wild animals such as deer, porcupine, wild-boar and monkey. 

We can happily say that our efforts were worthwhile since almost all the new plants are doing well and we are well on our way to get the forest back. This investment, if restricted to re-forestation, has no return, and over a period of time, will be a drain on resources. In order to be self-sufficient, a few cabanas, fitting with the surroundings, are being built to generate an income to meet the expenses of maintaining the project. 

If this works to it's true potential, FHP could purchase more such lands to further expand on the re-forestation project, or in the least, make it viable. At a time that the whole world is conscious of Global Warming, this project provides an ideal opportunity for those tourists taking a long flight to Sri Lanka to off-set their Carbon Foot-print (at a least a part thereof), by planting a tree. 

If anyone is interested to participate in this project or would like to know more please feel free to contact us. 

We look forward to your participation.

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