Our previous report was completely depressing and rightfully so. With inflation over 60%, unemployment at record highs, political unrest and shortages of essential items, Sri Lanka was in complete turmoil.
Over the past few months, we have reasons to be (quietly, very quietly!) optimistic. Sri Lanka has managed to negotiate on their outstanding debts, avoid further unrest and increase foreign earnings which has stabilised the country. This has brought tourists back and a renewed sense of hope among all of us at the Forest Healing Foundation.
Emma, our FHF coordinator visited us in January this year with her dad, Richard who has been supporting us for over 3 years. It was an absolute priviledge to show one of our biggest donors our work.
We are also re-shuffling the FHF Board with some members taking a more active and operational role. We are therefore also looking for anyone that might be interested to join us in a directional capacity.
We also have started negotiations with the Forest Department about reforesting abandoned Tea Estates in our area using natural regeneration which is very exciting! With the future looking positive and a new office space coming soon we hope this will give us the platform to expand our reforestation on a larger scale.
A FOREST HEALING SPACE!
We are so excited to announce a new FHF office which is coming in July all thanks to our wonderful Emma. And it will be right here, in the jungle! The FHF office space will have an office, 2 bedrooms, bathroom and a kitchen, making it an ideal place for volunteers and nature lovers.
With the recent increase of tourists, the interest in our efforts has also risen. There is no better feeling when visitors appreciate our work and offer support towards our project:). With Sri Lanka regaining interest and our office opening soon, we are now looking for a fulltime coordinator to join our team so if you are interested please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are happy to share that the 10 acres of land remains untouched. We are in regular contact with the land owner who is still keen to sell but doesnt seem desperate. Construction of the road circulating the land has also stopped due to insufficient funds which is good news for biodversity but not for the locals. We must not forget the challenges people face and the role people play in succesful conservation efforts.We are now discussing the option of leasing the land and focusining our attention towards other surronding forests at risk.
In terms of our donations, we are thankful to Polwaththa Eco Lodges and Eko Land Produce who have continued to support us through their sales and guests. We havent forgetten our other donors including those sending monthly donations - we are forever grateful and we hope that we can really step up our efforts this year. Thank you for your continued encouragement and support:)
Much love from the Jungle!
As mentioned in our previous report, Sri Lanka has been going through turmoil over the past 6 months. Bankruptacy, political instability and unprecedented rates of inflation are just some of the issues facing the island.
The newly appointed president is trying his upmost to get Sri Lanka out of this mess but even he has admitted that this will be an uphill task and could take several years before Sri lanka is on the road towards recovery.
So what has been happening at the Forest Healing Foundation? Well, despite the turmoil around us we have continued to plant and nurture our newly planted trees and offer some temporary jobs for some of the local villagers.
Some of the highlights are:
- Offering more jobs to support our tree planting efforts
- Planting and donating spice & endemic trees to the local community
The sad news is that we are seeing an increase in deforestation in our surrounding area. The economic pressures are forcing locals to sell their trees for timber at rate we have not seen before and it is becoming a real battle to save some of the neighbouring forests.In a time when the environment should be the primary focus not only in Sri Lanka but globally, it is downplayed yet again citing a global economic recession.
Despite the slow global efforts to tackle the environment and climate change we will continue to do our part ableit in a small way. With your support we will offer more employment opportunities, keep planting trees and spread the importance of protecting our beautiful forests.
Emma, Remon and the entire FHF team..
Our update this quarter cooincides with an important event in Sri Lanka's history in the last few days. Saturday saw protests on possibly the largest scale ever seen in the country in response to the social and economic crisis that grips Sri Lanka. As a result, both the President and Prime Minister have said they will resign.
It is our greatest hope that this change will result in a fairer, more equitable and more sustainable Sri Lanka. However, we must wait to see how things play out and in the immediate term local people and communities desperately need our help, so it is here that we are focusing.
Impact highlights from this quarter include:
- Through the FHF and our donors we have provided 20 varieties of vegetable seeds and plants to over 300 families and are extending to another 100 families soon to help combat the food crisis and reduce pressure on forests;
- Educating farmers and local families to help them grow the spices and vegetables sustainably through regular house visits (once per month) by trained experts;
- Providing organic fertiliser and pesticide to protect their vegetables and boost rice production organically;
- Exporting community-grown spices directly from Sri Lanka to consumers worldwide through our Eko Land Produce initiative;
- Providing emergency food parcels to desperate families identified by the village council.
Find out more:
If you would like to read more about what is happening in Sri Lanka right now and the projects we are running in our communities, please check out the latest blogs on www.foresthealingsrilanka.org/blog.
Support Sri Lanka during this crisis:
With food prices between 30-80% higher and fuel sales currently suspended except for essential vehicles, our communities need as much help as we can give them. (We have already had people walking 5km uphill to our location in the forest to collect vegetable seeds.)
You can donate today via the links on this page and we will also be launching a crisis fundraising campaign through GlobalGiving shortly. Building on the work already begun by the FHF team, donations will be used for two main projects:
(i) Food parcels - urgent relief for families in need;
(ii) Supporting communities to become self-sufficient during the food crisis - providing seeds, farming equipment, organic fertiliser production facilities, a village trading market, and events and training for sustainable, deforestation-free farming and agroforestry.
A huge thank you as always for your ongoing support. It means the world to us and is also making a huge difference for families here at a time when it is most needed.
Isthuthi and best wishes,
Nihal, Remon, Emma, Nel and the FHF community
We are really pleased to connect with our kind donors near and afar once again this month. Please know that your support continues to make a huge difference for the people and biodiversity here in the heart of Sri Lanka and we cannot thank you enough for this.
This quarter, we had to take the ups with the downs. We lost someone incredibly special to the FHF family and she will always be here in the forest in our hearts. As the Sri Lankan economy continues to fall and imports of fuel and other vital resources slow, we are also faced with new challenges. Yet, once again, this is even more reason to do all we can for our forests and communities.
Here are some of the highlights and things we are working on:
1. Building our capacity and strategy
Our Foundation Coordinator, Emma, is almost at the end of a year-long course with the Yale School of Environment’s Environmental Leadership Training Initiative. This program is designed to support conservation capacity building for tropical forest conservation and restoration. Through the course, Emma has been developing the next phase of the Forest Healing Foundation’s strategy and the instructors have been providing fantastic input to help us grow our impact.
We are also very excited to welcome Dileepa Rajaguru to the FHF team. Dileepa is a local wildlife specialist, an amazing photographer (check out @wild_diaries_dileepa on Instagram) and trained environmental educator. He is going to bring some fantastic skills and knowledge to help us bring our next projects to life and it is great to have him on board.
2. Many more trees planted
Nel continues to lead our forest restoration efforts like a force of nature, literally. With lots more trees planted and many more in the nursery ready to go, a simple thing like economic collapse won’t stop Nel. We salute her!
3. Vanilla takes off!
Our Eko Land Spice initiative continues to grow and this quarter saw a lot of excitement about vanilla. Our first plants flowered and there was a flurry of activity as an expert from the village came to help us hand-pollinate them. You only have one day to pollinate each flower once it opens so time is of the essence! We also received our first vanilla crop from a local farmer for drying and made the first sale of the spice. Vanilla is exciting because it is more lucrative for farmers than many other local spices and also offers more climate resilience in our area. Congratulations to Nihal, Ganeshan, Madushika and all the Eko Land team.
4. Visitors back in the jungle
It was great to finally welcome visitors back to the jungle over the last few months. There have been lots of tours of our reforestation projects and a donation is made to the Foundation as part of all yoga retreats taking place. We love getting new ideas and inspiration from visitors so please get in touch if you’re heading our way!
So it has been an up and down quarter for sure, however we are buoyed by Nihal’s drive and energy (did we tell you he turned 70?!) and by Nel’s passionate commitment to healing the forest. This unstoppable pair are an incredible inspiration and we are sure that the great things are just beginning for the Forest Healing Foundation.. We look forward to updating you in another few months!
Stay safe and well.
All our best wishes,
Emma, Remon, Nihal, Nel and all the FHF Community
Welcome to our quarterly update report where we share our latest news with you: our family of nature lovers and kind donors.
The last 3 months have continued to be challenging, especially the spread of COVID in Sri Lanka, but we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Our team is still spread in parts of Sri Lanka, the UK and elsewhere. However, some of our key members are returning to Digana this month and next, and we simply cannot wait!
The lockdown has forced us to put a dampener on our operations once again but we have been doing our best despite the circumstances. The unstoppable Nel has continued to plant and nurture trees where possible, including on our newly purchased Mee Hill. Our project highlights this quarter include:
1. Eko Land
Our Eko Land Produce initiative has continued to grow which has allowed us to work with other lands including former plantations where we are increasing their biodiversity by planting a variety of crop trees, flowers and native trees. One land in particular, a 15 acre land in Matale is now managed by us. It is a former cinnamon plantation which about 3 months ago had poor soil and insufficient forest cover. Since then, we have taken steps to improve the forest cover, soil and water retention to create a more balanced ecosystem that will also improve the crop yield.
2. UK Fundraising
Up in the North of England Richard and Sarah, who have been incredible supporters, have raised an incredible £2,250 (or $3000) through their Charity Walk Marathon in Stonehenge. After seeing some photos, it looked more like a swim than a walk but we cannot thank them enough for their efforts and bravery!
We would like to thank everyone who supported their walk and all those who continue to support our efforts. We always love to hear from you so feel free to get in touch at email@example.com.
Kind wishes and stay safe,
Nihal, Remon, Emma and all the FHF Community
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