Commercial Bank’s Managing Director Jegan Durairatnam (3rd from right) exchanges the agreement with WNPS Vice President Rahula Dassenaieke in the presence of representatives of the Society and the Bank’s CSR Trust
The Commercial Bank of Ceylon is to partner with the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) to support the latter’s Reforestation of a Rainforest (R.O.A.R.) project under a milestone agreement signed by the two parties on 5th June – World Environment Day.
The bank has pledged funds over a three-year period, to reforest half a hectare of land designated as Zone ‘D’ on Diyakotha Kanda in the village of Dikhena on the boundary of the Sinharaja rainforest, a biosphere reserve and World Heritage Site.
The project will involve the planting and nurturing of a minimum of 3,500 trees of pioneer plant species native to Sri Lanka or naturalised, the bank said. Zone ‘D’ which has been allocated to Commercial Bank as a model site consists of rocky terrain with poor top soil.
The objective of the R.O.A.R. project, on a block of land entrusted to the WNPS by the Forest Department of Sri Lanka, is to create a sustainable model for reforestation using a mixture of early and late successional species with a strong representation of native and naturalised species with optimal rates of growth and lowest cost.
A memorandum of understanding between the Commercial Bank and the WNPS governing the bank’s support to the project was formally ratified by the bank’s Managing Director Jegan Durairatnam and the Vice President of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society Rahula Dassenaieke.
Commenting on this latest community-related commitment by the bank, Durairatnam said: “Our country has been blessed with an abundance of nature’s bounty, but sadly, our flora and fauna are being depleted at an alarming rate. Deforestation has resulted in aggravating natural disasters.As an organisation that considers social responsibility one of its principal pillars, Commercial Bank is committed to support projects of this type that help redress some of the damage. The Sinharaja forest and its environs are especially important, and it must be borne in mind that rainforests, while easy to destroy, are very difficult to regrow.”
Established a game protection society in 1894, the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka has a membership of 3,000 and has as its patron the President of the country. The Society plays the role of an influential advocate of policy relating to nature and as an environmental educator.Leveraging its strong reputation and relationship with the Government and its agencies, the Society promotes responsible, sustainable development.
CommercialBank’s engagement with the Society’s R.O.A.R. project will be managed and monitored by the Commercial Bank Corporate Social Responsibility Trust, which is responsible for a multifaceted portfolio of community projects.
Among the projects supported by the Bank in the environment sphere is aground-breakinginitiative by the Department of Wildlife Conservation to replant coral in the Hikkaduwa Marine National Park. It involved replanting an extent of 1,000 square feet in the Walduwa area of the marine park, using techniques perfected in the Philippines. The original coral in this protected area was damaged in 1998 due to the warming of the ocean due to the ‘El Niño’ southern oscillation and the
tsunami of 2004.