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Video on plastic pollution

A video made by Zaineb Akbarally on plastic pollution, in relation to World Environment Day 2018 and its theme. In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; in 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 320 million tons of plastic. This is set to double by 2034. Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans. There are many things we can do

Bodhinagala: A Model for Forest Patch Conservation

Last week, I took a short day trip to the charming little forest patch, the Bodhinagala Forest Reserve. Also home to a monastery, there is an abundance of people around it and plenty of edge habitat. I realized just how sub-urban it is only when a motorcycle hurriedly drove past while I was photographing a pair of Sri Lankan Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis), who did not seem to bat an eyelid at the noisy diminutive vehicle revving beneath them. Despite this,

Status of Waste Management in Sri Lanka

Given the recent calamity at Meethotamulla and the ill-advised decision to dump garbage in Muthurajawela, a wetland sanctuary under the Fauna and Flora Ordinance, it is useful to consider the background to waste management in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka generates 7000MT of solid waste per day with the Western Province accounting for nearly 60% of waste generation.  Each person generates an average of 1-0.4kg of waste per day.  According to the Waste Management Authority and the Central Environmental Authority, only half

Sri Lanka’s Ocean Conference Commitments

Last week saw the first UN Ocean Conference, where heads of states, civil society organizations, private corporations and scientists came together to reiterate the importance of the ocean and to facilitate actions for the protection and conservation of oceans, seas and other marine resources.  The need for large scale intervention and action to save oceans is pressing. From ocean acidification to mismanagement of marine protected areas to exploitation of fish resources, the threats that this vast vital system faces are

Trashing an Ocean: Sri Lanka’s Marine Pollution Problem

Henderson Island, a tiny remote island in the far flung reaches of the South Pacific Ocean, should bear no trace of human civilization. Instead, the tropical island is covered by a staggering 38 million pieces of plastic trash.  Marine debris is mostly made up of plastic, from waterproof sheets to plastic bottles to miniscule micro-plastics found in cosmetic products. Buoyant and durable, plastic is dispersed over vast distances and is found in the most impenetrable corners of the ocean: even

Putting Biodiversity on the Map

Funded by the Japan Biodiversity Secretariat, Environmental Foundation Limited generated 16 maps based on biodiversity and socio-economic data as well as development plans of the government of Sri Lanka. These maps include existing protected areas, proposed gaps in protected areas, forest areas important for erosion and flood control, habitat suitability and corridor models, as well as areas identified for commodity agriculture and large scale infrastructure. The purpose of this project was to understand where biodiversity targets will conflict with

Sustainable Tourism and Biodiversity: Tackling Marine Debris in Sri Lanka

Tourism has a symbiotic and occasionally parasitic relationship with biodiversity. Biodiversity pulls in visitors with the wildlife and the aesthetic beauty that is associated with pristine natural habitats and in turn, the revenue generated from tourism can go towards conservation efforts and upkeep of protected areas. However, unchecked and unsustainable tourism degrades natural environments, destroying the very thing that attracted visitors there in the first place. Tourism plays a prominent role in Sri Lanka’s post-war economy, generating $US 2.2 billion

Biodiversity and the Law: An Overview of Sri Lanka

From conserving habitats to preventing illegal wildlife trade, the law is a crucial instrument in protecting Sri Lanka’s biodiversity and ensuring that endangered and endemic species are not forgotten and lost in waves of development. While Sri Lanka is bound by international conventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, it has a diverse range of domestic legislature under which biodiversity is governed and considered. Biodiversity

Curbing biodiversity loss by destructive mini hydropower

Despite global recognition for their biodiversity, Sri Lanka’s moist tropical evergreen forests seem to be less valued by its citizens, as development goals and population pressures have steadily eroded forest cover, often leaving only isolated patches which still sustain rare and endemic species. Buoyed by green credibility and a conducive policy framework that was afforded to renewable energy, mini hydro power projects have mushroomed in the South-west, harnessing water sources that are often found in pristine and untouched rainforests. While the

Wetland to Wasteland – Degradation of Colombo’s Urban Ecosystems

A respite from Colombo’s urban sprawl is often found in an intricate network of urban wetlands across the city. While wetlands regulate temperature, reduce the impact of floods and sequester carbon, these urban ecosystems are frequently and recklessly allotted for the purpose of garbage disposal, with one of South Asia’s largest garbage dumps situated in the Boralesgamuwa wetland. Even designated Ramsar Sites are not exempt, with a recommendation to establish a 5 acre site in Muthurajawela, in the Wattala Divisional