English Cricket Captain Michael Vaughan and ODI Captain Paul Collingwood joined Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara to plant trees in a symbolic gesture to offset carbon emissions associated with the cricket test series. Sri Lanka Tourism together with the Rotary Club of Colombo Regency, Rotary Club of Kandy and the Rotary Movement and Rainforest Rescue International (RRI) launched the 10 million tree planting programme in Galle on December 16, 2007, to mark the opening of the new cricket stadium with greening its environment.
Parallel to the tree planting event at the stadium, the Rotary Movement will mobilize the Rotary Club of Galle, Rain Forest Rescue, Responsible Tourism Partnership, Ruk Reka Ganno and schools in the area to undertake an extensive tree planting programme in an around Galle area.
With the planting, also launched was an exciting programme by Galle-based RRI, to put Galle on the map as Sri Lanka’s “Rainforest City”.
Galle, now a thriving town, was once covered in rainforest and a few rainforest species can still be found in the town. Sri Lanka’s last remaining virgin rainforest, the Sinharaja, is only 1.5 hours drive away from Galle and is home to 50% of the island’s endemic species of mammals, butterflies, insects, reptiles and rare amphibians.
Green islands and corridors of native species will be created throughout the city to provide shade and clean air. Rainforest species will be given to residents to plant in their gardens and to schools to plant on their grounds. RRI and the Rotary Club of Galle will work with the local community to develop the project by providing technical advice and guidance.
Galle Fort has been chosen as the first community in Galle to take the Rainforest City project forward. To coincide with the ceremony at the Stadium, a community planting took place in the Fort. Within the Galle Municipality, there will be a further 1,000 trees placed. Sri Lanka Tourism believes this as a positive step in enabling the community to begin regenerating the natural heritage of the Galle Fort.
This programme will be a part of Sri Lanka Tourism’s “Towards a Carbon Clean Sri Lanka; a Tourism Earth Lung” programme. The programme envisages to make Sri Lanka a carbon clean destination within a period of 10 years with assertive action on stopping de-forestation, mitigating pollution and using energy efficient alternative technology.