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Commemoration on International Mountain Day -2013

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The 11th Commemoration on International Mountain Day was celebrated on 17th December2013 by the Biodiversity Secretariat, Ministry of Environment & Renewable Energy, Sri Lanka. International Mountain Day is an opportunity to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to the world’s mountains and highlands. Therefore the Secretariat organized a one day workshop to commemorate this event with the help of Department of Wildlife Conservation and Friends of Horton Plains at the Horton Plains National Park.

The main target group of the programme were the tea planters who carry out planting activities close to the Horton Plains National Park as well as the members of Friends of Horton Plains. 70 participants from the plantation sector, Department of WildlifeConservation, Tea Research Institute, Biodiversity Conservation Society, Heyare, and Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy took part in the programme.

Horton Plains National Park- Sri Lanka

Horton Plains National Park is a World Heritage site in the central highlands of Sri Lanka  and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This is the higest plateau of the country. Altitude of the Hortorn Plains is 2,100–2,300 metres (6,900–7,500 ft). Sambur, Bear Monkey, Maharathmal and some orchids and Ginihota species are flagsip species in the Horton Planes.

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Horton Plains National Park

Total area  of this National Park is 3,160 hectares and it is identified as a local  biodiversity hotspot. and Many species found here are endemic to the region. This region was designated as a national park in 1988. The Horton Plains are the watershed for three major rivers, the MahaweliKelani and Walawe. The Hortorn plains is known as Maha Eliya Plains in Sinhalese.

Mrs. A.H.M.P. Abeykoon, the Director of Biodiversity Secretariat, represented  the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy as the chief guest. She address the gendering and share her knowledge and field experience of the importance and values of mountain biodiversity. She also highlighted the threats and problems which are increasing the degradation of mountain biodiversity in the country. 

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Participants of the Commemoration on International Mountain Day -2013

Mr. Piyal Ravindra Kumar, Park Warden of the Horton Plains National Park was briefly explained about the Horton Plains and made a background for the next lecture.  The main lecture of the days is held by Dr. Suranjan Fernando. He delivered a comprehensive lecture on“How to Manage Tea Plantations while Conserving the Biodiversity” in the mountain areas. During the discussion there was a time to solve practical matters which are arising biodiversity conservation in the Tea estates followed by the Lecture.

Mr. Vinod De Silva the Manager of the Alagalla Plantation shared  his experience of his Himalayan exploration on behalf of the Mountain Day 2013.  Mr. Chaminda Senanayake the President of the Friends of Horton Plains delivered the vote of thanks and wound up the first session of the International Mountain day programme. He especially Thanked the Biodiversity Secretariat for organizing this valuable and timely programme on behalf of the Commemoration on International Mountain Day -2013 and he mention the experience gathered at the programme was very important to develop management activities in the Tea Estates to conserve Biodiversity.

The Second session was the field exploration of Thotupola Mountain which is the 3rd highest mountain of Sri Lanka(2,357 metres (7,733 ft). This session was conducted by Dr. Suranjan Fernando. All participants took hands on experience about the mountain ecosystem. 2013 December was the flowering season of the Strobilanthus species after 12 years. Some Orchid species also in flower during this season.

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Field Exploration at the Thotapola Hills

 

This is the heavy blooming season of Nelu (Strobilanthes sp.) in the Horton Plains National Park. This can be seen at the Pattipola entrance area, Ohiya entrance area, along the nature trail to Thotupola and Kirigalpotta peaks and around Baker's Falls.

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     Strobilanthes sexe                              Strobilanthes pulcherrima        Strobilanthes calycina                       Strobilanthes viscosa

Along the Thotapola Exploration trail we found four Strobilanthesspecies in bloom. Stobilanthesarerestricted to the forests and secondary scrub lands of Sri Lanka’s central highlands. There are 31 species occurring in Sri Lanka among that 23 spp. are endemic to the country about 20 spp found in the mountain region 

On behalf of the Biodiversity Secretariat I would like to  thanksthe Secretary, Addl. Secretary (NRM), Director (Biodiversity) of the Ministry of Environment& Renewable Energy, Director General and Asst. Director of the Central Province of the Department of Wildlife Conservation for giving their approvals to organize this programme and I would like to mention  Dr. Suranjan Fernando and Mr. Rajika Gamage, Mr.Piyal and Mr.Siripala who dedicated their valuable time towards the success of this programme.

 

Prepared & Photographs By Manoj Prasanna (PA)
Biodiversity Secretariat,
Ministry of Environment & Renewable Energy
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 09:57