BSL and its technical partner IUCN undertook a joint field visit to Puwakpitiya village recently, where the HSBC-supported Puwakpitiya Mini-watershed Conservation Project is being implemented. HSBC is a Patron Member of BSL.
The construction work at the Illukkubura Visitor Centre is at its final phase and finishing touches are being done under the supervision of the Technical Officer from the Laggala-Pallegama Pradeshiya Sabha. IUCN is in the process of developing knowledge materials for the center which is expected to be declared open in March. Note on field visit to knuckles
Under the project, a degraded 2 hectare plot in the Knuckles Conservation Forest is being restored. We observed that survival rates are low due to the prevailing dry weather conditions. In addition, invasive plant species have also spread in the land. New saplings will be planted and invasive species removed during the next HSBC voluntary staff engagement program due to be held shortly.
At a macro level, the construction of adequate toilet facilities will improve the quality of local water resources. As a replicable model 05 such toilets were constructed through the project with the possibility of more being constructed with community engagement.
It was noted that the most significant impact of the prevailing dry spell is on the pepper plants mostly in home garden. It was witnessed that a substantial percentage have not survived, despite community efforts to maintain and nurture them. Given the potential for earning a higher income through pepper cultivation, communities still wish to grow more pepper plants in the next cultivation season. Efforts will be made to request the Export Agricultural Department to re-distribute new pepper plants for replenishment, whilst taking into account possible climate change scenarios over the course of next year.