Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dole Foods abandons Banana Plantation in the Somawathiya National Park

The environmental website mongabay.com (http://news.mongabay.com/2011/1121-hance_dole_abandons.html) reports that Dole who along with a Sri Lankan company Letsgrow Ltd cleared 12,0000 acres of dense forest bordering the Somawathiya National Park, has now abandoned the project. That is all very well, and the Environmental Foundation Ltd, takes credit for this pointing out using Google Earth, coordinates, and park boundaries that there was incursion into the Park. However Letsgrow Ltd has still not abandoned the project and continues to operate. Do not forget that Letsgrow made a fortune by felling valuable trees when it cleared the 12,000 acres. These trees don’t look like growing there anymore or any time soon!!

Who is Letsgrow? Who are the principals? For want of second guessing in the Banana Republic, the fingers MUST point to high level individuals in the govt. as no one else would have been given permission in the first place to carve up so much land, when already, arable land exists in Sri Lanka for such a purpose. This whole project was notified to me over 6 months ago by a conservation oriented farmer in Polonnaruwa who was horrified that this was happening, and all the laws relating to encroachment into National Parks had been ignored.

I am very saddened that the Sri Lanka Press has not taken up this cause, performed further investigation, and highlight the wrongs, so that the public can take a stand on the merits of the investigation, so that if any laws have been broken, the perpetrators, be they Government high ups or ruling families, brought to book immediately and prosecuted for their actions.

It is important that NO MORE forest is cut. Already the Human Elephant conflict is causing the death of too many Humans and Elephants. So in a clear case of the potential to worsen this; the National Park contains 500 elephants who roam into the park to partake of its seclusion and security, we must try and return this land back to the wild. Common sense would dictate that if there is no elephant electric fence, this project cannot succeed as elephants love a Banana Plantation, as they can feed off every part of the Banana tree not to mention their love for the fruit. So what is the planned solution if an elephant fence was not part of the project?

I firmly believe we must set up a ‘Conservation Corps’ equipped with resources from the forces, to protect from the encroachment into all reserves. Encroachment is a daily occurrence courtesy of the government politicians both national and provincial with the collusion of the police! This Corps has to be independent of the State as otherwise its functioning will be compromised. It must also have teeth in order to swoop and enforce the law and not leave it to the slow courts system.


Anonymous said...

You are one of the few people who live in Sri Lanka who cares about the environment. Even the lobby has died down saying there is nothing they can do about the rape by the government of the environment which they do not care at all as they are here for the short term to take as much as they can before they are hounded out of office.

The lack of comments from the blogosphere to one of the most important issues bloggers seem to care about is reflective of the Sri Lankan attitude to this topic

Anonymous said...

Letsgrow Ltd. according to a BBC report is owned by Pramodhaya Wickremasinghe and Muttiah Muralitharan. However we do not know if they are a front for others.

It also says the land was bought from the Army, which is also far fetched as the Army has not right to sell land they do not own!!

Anyway we have yet to know the truth and also to confirm that the land was not cleared or that all the cultivations have ceased.

So what happened to all that timber?

Jack Point said...

Maybe the idea was to harvest the timber, which would offset the initial capital cost of the farm?

I think logging and mining are happening on a fair scale in Wilpattu. Rumour is that they are even turning out the furniture itself within the Wilpattu sanctuary. One of my friends had to move off the road to allow a 40 foot container lorry to pass-within the park, so something is happening on a big scale there. Friends have also reported seeing tractor loads of labourers being taken into Wilpattu.

I have seen some logging which seems to be within the reserves of Haputale and Knuckles, again, I'm not sure where the borders of the reserve end so I'm not 100% certain, but to the untrained eye it looks like its within the reserve.

HVA has put up a farm on the Wilpattu border. Whether this encroaches the buffer zone or the park I do not know.

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...


This is a reference to an article in the Sunday Lakbima where follows on from the initial report and continues about the complicity of the Army, the Department of Wildlife and the Agrarian Services in the rape of Sri Lanka's forests.

It is sad that Dole with such a history of bad relations with Banana Republics actually has taken a stance in this Banana Republic, but the goons of the state are bent on a continuous campaign against the environment