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Traffic locked bumper to bumper.

Washington: The traffic outside the boundaries of the Diyasaru Park is locked bumper to bumper, but inside is a wetland paradise.

A long walking path winds its way through sixty acres of carefully restored wetlands, complete with narrow streams covered in pink lotus flowers in bloom. Wildlife has reclaimed this space, and Diyasaru is home to some 80 species of birds, 25 species of butterflies, a host of other animals including otters, shy fishing cats, and two estuarine crocodiles, who are sometimes spotted feasting on fish. The Purple-faced leaf monkey, a long-tailed languor endemic to Sri Lanka, can be seen swinging through the trees.

ChethikaGunasiri, an environmental scientist with the Wetland Management Division of Sri Lanka's Land Reclamation and Development Corporation, said, "Colombo is a wetland city at heart - but Sri Lankans need reminding too often. People talk about how important it is to protect places like Wilpattu and Yala, but they don't think about the wetlands in our own backyard."

Even more important is how the wetlands feed and provide for the communities that surround them. The WMS highlighted how locals relied on water from wetlands to cultivate vegetables, edible herbs, yams and other crops when water levels are low or during off-paddy seasons. The wetlands supported subsistence fishing, and offered spaces for cattle to forage.

Conservationists say over 87 percent of all the wetland areas actually provide food and additional household income for Colombo's urban poor. An estimated 60 percent of such local households directly benefit from livelihoods and products derived from the wetlands.

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Publication:Daily the Pak Banker (Lahore, Pakistan)
Date:Mar 28, 2018
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