The Forest Cover of Sri Lanka which stood at 49% in the year 1920, has dropped to a shocking 16.5% over the past century. Today, deforestation continues to take place drastically, destroying over 25,000 hectares of forest annually. While the rich and valuable forest resources of this country are being limitlessly taken away to fulfill the needs of mankind, there exists groups of people dedicated towards compensating the situation and reforming the original as much as possible. We, at Rotaract Achievers believed it was our duty as well to contribute towards the re-forestation of Sri Lanka, and decided to join hands with this valuable cause.
Cut the greed, not the green is a reforestation project carried out by the Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School, partnering with Reforest Sri Lanka. The project was initiated with the aim of planting trees at different locations around the country. After having completed two successful phases of this project during the last Rotaract year, our team was determined to do an even bigger job this time, completing many more phases of this impressive project.
The first phase for this year took place on 5th of September 2020 with a target of planting 500 kumbuk plants at the Etipola Mountain base beside Moragolu Oya, located near Riverstone, Matale. Our club members had planned to gather by 4.00 AM, at Achievers. However, adhering to the Sri Lankan custom of getting delayed, it was 5.00 AM when we actually set off. After a four-and-a-half-hour journey, we reached our destination.
The surrounding was mesmerizing as the Knuckles range was visible covered by the steamy evergreen vegetation. Despite wanting to sit and enjoy the beauty for some time, we had to directly get into work since we were already late. The samplings and required equipment had already been brought by the members of Reforest Sri Lanka, who were also present to lend their hands for the project.
As the first stage of the process, we had to take the plants down a slope towards the area they had to be planted. We decided to spread out at hands distance and passed the plants down the slope, to make the job faster. After bringing them down, everyone had to take two or three plants and walk another 200m towards the planting spot. This was indeed the most energy draining part of the entire process. We planted the samplings in the holes which had already been bored by augers. After planting about 250 of them, we decided to take a break and have lunch before resuming to finish the remaining.
We all relaxed along the Moragolu Oya, rejoicing the scenic beauty of the environment while having a simple meal, and even enjoyed the natural fish therapy in the small ponds formed by the stone beds along the stream. Just before getting back to work, it started to rain which paved in many ways to add misery to our task.
The main problem we faced was leaches, as they started to appear drastically after the rain. It was a dreadful sight to see two or three leaches lurking beneath our clothes and relishing on our blood. However, we managed to plant some more samplings amidst this chaos. But eventually with many of us fatigued towards the end with the amount of work, and the gradual worsening of the weather, we decided to wrap it up for the day. Even though we weren’t able to achieve the target due to the unfavorable conditions, we managed to bed 320 plants by the end of the day, and everyone felt content and happy to see how it had turned out.
The evening view of the mountains was so lovely; we spent some time enjoying the view and taking pictures to capture the moments.
Before we set off back to Colombo, we decided to spend some time at the Bambarakiri Ella. It is a multi stepped waterfall, where a series of waterfalls, each having its own pool are connected together one after the other. There were two pools accessible for us. Even though one was safe, the other one had a dangerous plunge pool just below its adjoining waterfall which had a history of no one returning from it after going in. Fortunately, just before we could get into it, somebody directed us to the safer side which was suitable for swimming. We swam and refreshed ourselves in the cold water after the tiring day. The waterfall is indeed a hidden gem, a tranquil and peaceful place. A suspension bridge spanning the falls added the finishing touch to the already beautiful scenery.
No one wanted to leave that place, but since it was already late, half heartedly we all got back to the vehicle and returned to Colombo, putting an end to a very eventful day, with plenty of memories to cherish.
It’s undeniable that the value of time we spent for such a project is immeasurable. Our club members gained a lot from the first phase of Cut the Greed, not the Green, from the knowledge and experience, to fostering partnerships, the satisfaction gained from contributing towards reforesting the county, not to mention the amount of fun we had. We ended the day eagerly looking forward to the second phase of the project very soon!
Rtr. Gowthaman Jegatheesan