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WNPS Forges New Groundthrough Private Land Acquisition for Biodiversity Conservation

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Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) is pleased to sign their inaugural Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), under the PLANT Guarantee Company.

PLANT – WNPS’ Preserving Land and Nature Trust, was set up with the aim of acquiring privately owned lands for the purpose of conservation (outright or on a long-term lease) and to collect funds through the Trust, to purchase lands for the purpose of conservation. Sustainable forest-grown Ceylon tea brand Kaley Teas will be partnering with WNPS on this ground-breaking PLANT initiative.

In a time of rapid development and increasing demand for resources such as now, land conservation and reforestation play an important role in safeguarding wildlife habitats. Protecting unharmed forests is also among the most efficient and cost-effective ways to combat climate change. The PLANT (Preserving Land and Nature Trust) strategy is to acquire as many acres of private land as possible for conservation purposes under a Single Purpose Vehicle (either through lease or outright donation of land and by collecting funds under the Trust for purchasing of land). Acquiring private land for the purpose of biodiversity conservation is not a new concept and is practiced globally with a lot of success. The aim of the vehicle is to increase the land extent available for conservation, as remaining habitats are being eroded by unplanned development and unsustainable agricultural practices that cause grave and unprecedented threat to both forest cover and wildlife.

Pioneers in conservation

Established in 1894, the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) is the third oldest conservation society in the world and the largest in Sri Lanka with a membership base of over 3,000. For the last 127 years WNPS has been working with many stakeholders including scientists, researchers, policy makers, conservationists, activists and the general public, to protect Sri Lanka’s rich biodiversity. Partnering with companies and supporters who share the same vision, allows the WNPS to springboard its efforts in protecting Sri Lanka’s flora and fauna for future generations

 

Protecting Sri Lanka’s wildlife habitats is now more important than ever

Sri Lanka is known as a global biodiversity hotspot for its high number of species, in a relatively limited area. Sri Lanka’s biodiversity also has a high rate of endemism – about 27% of the country’s plants are endemic and 22% of its amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Sadly, Sri Lanka has one of the highest recorded rates of primary forest destruction in the world (Global Forest Watch). Primary forest cover has fallen from 84% in 1881 to less than 17% today (Mongbay). Habitat loss is the leading threat to Sri Lanka’s native ecosystems and species. It should come as no surprise that 30 species of mammals, 14 species of birds, 13 species of reptiles, 75 species of amphibians, 121 species of fish and 298 species of plants in Sri Lanka are listed as Threatened (IUCN Red List version 2020)

The biggest threat to Sri Lanka’s forests and wildlife habitats are human activities such as urbanization, agricultural expansion and ill-advised development projects.

Government decisions, such as the decision to abolish Circular No. 5/2001 and hand over forested land classified as Other State Forests (OSF) from the Forest Department (FD) to the Divisional Secretaries and District Secretaries for selected development projects, will destroy even more of our wildlife habitats.

 

Partners with a shared vision

Kaley Teas is a pioneering Ceylon tea, which comes from a single garden surrounded by forests, bordering Sinharaja Rainforest. The tea is grown organically, made with the finest leaves that are hand-picked, naturally withered from the winds from the rainforest and hand made.

Kaley continues to restore abandoned tea lands stripped of its natural balance by re-establishing bio diverse forest eco-systems. As Kaley’s teas are grown in a forest environment, the income of the community who grow and make tea is totally dependent on the existence of the forest. In this regard, Kaley Farms has set up a multi-pronged program to enrich the living standards of the families involved in the growing, plucking and making of Kaley Tea. Kaley will share their life stories, especially those of women and children who face various challenges on a daily basis. This will enable their partners to relate much closer to their communities. Ultimately, Kaley hopes that these actions will positively impact the 300 or so families in the village and will also help build a model that could be rolled-out elsewhere in the country.

Through this partnership WNPS and Kalay Teas hopes to protect and further develop the forest eco system and biodiversity, carry out research, publish findings which can aid in conservation and conduct training programs to educate village communities to ensure sustainability.



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DG Information ignorant of basic election laws and regulations: ECSL

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by PRIYAN DE SILVA

The Election Commission (EC) has expressed its disappointment at controversial statements made by some public officials about elections. It says some top government official, including the Director General of Government Information, are not familiar with the basic election laws and regulations laid down in the Constitution.

The EC says it may be due to his ignorance that the Director General of Government Information has issued the Special News Release, on 29 January, claiming that ‘the gazette notification, with the signatures of the Chairman, and other members of the Election Commission, required for the commencement of the Local Government Election process, has not yet been sent to the Government Press for printing’. The EC has said such notices have to be signed and sent by the relevant Returning Officers in accordance with section 38 of the Local Authorities Election (Amendment Act) No 16 of 2017, and not by the members of the EC.

The EC has confirmed that the notices from the Returning Officers were sent to the Government Press on Monday (30).

The EC’s Media release also points out that the DGI may be unaware that Article 104GG of the Constitution states that if any public official refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to comply with the Commission he or she has committed an offence.

Article 104GG of the Constitution says: (1) Any public officer, any employee of any public corporation, business or other undertaking vested in the Government under any other written law and any company registered or deemed to be registered under the Companies Act, No. 7 of 2007, in which the Government or any public corporation or local authority holds fifty percent or more of the shares of that company, who – (a) refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to cooperate with the Commission, to secure the enforcement of any law relating to the holding of an election or the conduct of a Referendum; or (b) fails without a reasonable cause to comply with any directions or guidelines issued by the Commission under sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (4) or sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (5), respectively, of Article 104B, shall be guilty of an offense and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

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AKD says no improvement at Sapugaskanda oil refinery since it went into production in 1969

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The capacity of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery (SOR) has not increased since it was established in 1969, National People’s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake says.

Speaking at a public rally recently he that in 1969, the SOR used the most advanced technology available at the time.

“CPC started construction in 1968 and SOR started operations, refining oil, on August 5th, 1969. During that time, the CPC could refine 50,000 MT of crude oil. 55 years later, the capacity remains the same. In 1969, the CPC started with the most advanced technology available at the time. Technology has improved now. We are still refining oil with 1969 technology,” he said.

Dissanayake said that Sri Lanka built a fertiliser factory to use the byproducts of the refinery and, in 1982, a newspaper reported that 5000 MT of urea, produced by that factory, was exported to Pakistan. Today, that factory is closed.

“The CPC also had a nylon factory, as a subsidiary. We built our own nylon thread fish nets. By-products of the refinery were used as pesticides and insecticides for our pineapple and flower production. Those factories were closed, too. We had a candle industry from the by-products, we produced lubricant oil. It was sold to American Caltex. Refinery produced fuel for airplanes. It has the capacity to sell USD 1.4 million worth airplane fuel per day. We can buy crude oil, refine, and sell to ships. These are opportunities we must use to earn foreign currency. Recently this section of the CPC was privatized,” he said.

The ruling class has failed to secure even the most important assets, he said. Agriculture, land, gems, ilmenite, our natural resources, so will these rulers protect what is left, he asked.

“They have absolutely no plan to build this country. Selling our resources, closing down factories and selling valuable machinery is what they know. Every government has taken part in the destruction of the refinery. This is why we need a change in the economy. We need to transform our economy. Only NPP can do that,” he said.

The NPP leader said that the existing constitution concentrates too much power in the hands of the executive president. Sri Lanka has had this executive presidential system for 40 years and executive power was used against the people, repressing them.

“Our economy was destroyed. It has done no good to this country. One man cannot develop the country. Individuals have capacities and limitations. We need to unite our capabilities to govern this country. It’s a collective effort and the NPP is the only party to undertake it. That’s the point of difference. There are talented people from all fields like history, economy, mathematics, law and so on. There are lawyers, university academics and professionals. The government has to unite these capacities and talents to bring optimum results for the country. NPP will do that. For that we have to abolish executive presidency and rewrite the constitution vesting more powers in the Parliament. We will bring about this change,” he said.

Dissanayake said an NPP administration will limit the number of Ministers to 18. He added that crossovers have distorted the democratic system and corrupted the political culture.

“People vote for them in one party but for money and positions they change political allegiance. This has become a public nuisance. Some MPs demand ransom to stay in the party. We will add a provision to the Constitution to ban crossing over,” he said.

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JVP: Where are President’s influential foreign friends?

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By Rathindra Kuruwita 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who assumed duties, claiming that he had very influential friends overseas, now claims he can hardly afford to pay government servants, National People’s Power (NPP) MP Vijitha Herath says.

“If anything, things are worse than before. The government is afraid of the people and is trying to postpone elections,” Herath said, adding that the March 09 local council election would mark the beginning of the end for the Ranil-Rajapaksa administration.

Herath said so addressing an NPP election rally recently.

 “They will no longer be able to pretend that the people are with them. Not that they have any legitimacy, locally or internationally, but the level of their unpopularity will be seen on 10 March,, when the poll results are announced” he said.

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