Last week a delegation of Tree Credits visited the OARM project in Boralugoda. During these three days Abel Swart and Thomas Albers (both from the Netherlands) were taken there by Shantha to give them an impression of what’s been going on there. They made a short report about this ‘expedition’:
“When Shantha invited us to come to this precious land of his ancestors, we couln’t possibly imagine what it would be like. This was one of the remotest places we’ve been so far in Sri Lanka. A four hour bus ride on the most difficult road conditions was the start of the ‘expedition’. Since there isn’t any shop around, we bought some basic food like lentils, cookies, peanuts, patatoes and dates in Baduraliya before getting on the last bus. When we arrived we where accomodated by a local family, who prepared us local rice and curry three times a day.
The first evening Shantha took us on a three hour night walk and demonstrated us his wealth of knowledge about nature. The most impressive was a little green vipsnake we found among the green leaves. We caught it for further study and observation for the next day. Such a beautiful animal it was.
Waking up early by the sunlight and the sounds of the jungle is a lot better than the honking horns at busy Galle Road. In the morning we took some pictures of the snake we caught the night before and released it in his own habitat. Shanthe was off to arrange some formalities in Baduraliya for leasing a new piece of land in Boralugoda, which turned out to be succesful. On this land (2.5 Acre) he’ll plant new indigenous trees for creating new rainforest. The planting of saplings is planned after the rainy season as it is the best time for it. The afternoon we all went to one of the many rivers that enrich this area. This is how OARM started; doing research on the aquatic life. We saw a lot of unique species that only exist in Sri Lanka and many of them only on this particular spot.
On the way back to our acommodation Shantha explained us about the rich history of Boralugoda. Apparantly long time ago there was a king who was banned by another king, the ruler of the country at that time. To dethrone the ruling king he prepared himself and his army by forging a array of weapons in what now is called Boralugoda. Because the iron ore that was mined and used for the forging, was found here, the area got known by this heap (Goda) of iron ore (Boralu). Unfortunately this tradition ceased to exist a few years ago when the last black smith of Boralugoda passed away.
The last day we went for a walk through the forest and Shanthe was guiding us to the successful replanting projects from the past and the new lots he is eager to replant and protect. There are three more lots of land he would like to buy or lease (it depends on the current ownership), each about 2.5 Acre. The reason for buying these lots, of which now some are governmental property and some are private property, is that their future use is unknown and so the conservation of existing forest can be secured and the reforestation of bare land can start. The last decade more and more land is being exploited for tea plantations or other agriculture and this ruined the balance in the rich biodiversity, where this area was formerly known for. Habitats and natural forest are disappearing and that is a call for action. The fact that again two local families (0.5 Acre and 2.5 Acre) are offering their pieces of land to OARM for free, to be part reforesting the area, shows how much faith and involvement they have in OARM and its project.
For both of us this expedition showed us the need for investing in reforestation in this area and we are even more dedicated to do whatever we can to help. For now we are trying to find resources for puchasing more land to prevent it from being destroyed forever.