The International Day of Forests (IDF) is celebrated globally on 21st March each year as a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests for the benefit of current and future generations.
This year’s global IDF theme concentrates on Forests and Energy. In Sri Lanka, FAO joined hands with the Sri Lanka UN-REDD Programme and the Forest Department and Climate Change Secretariat, as well as SLYCAN Trust, to launch a one-minute video competition for the general public under the theme: Value of Forests.
The prize giving of the competition was held at the national celebration held to celebrate the International Day of Forests at the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment in Battaramulla.
The event was attended by a host of dignitaries that included FAO Representative in Sri Lanka Nina Brandstrup, Secretary of the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy Dr. Suren Batagoda, Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Shantha Wijeratne, Conservator General of Forests and Director of the Sri Lanka UN-REDD Programme Anura Sathurusinghe, Chief of the Veddha Community Uruwarige Wannila Eththo and many other dignitaries. The event provided a platform to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests, and highlighted the role played by forests in providing livelihoods, powering sustainable development and mitigating climate change.Speaking at the function, FAO Representative in Sri Lanka, Nina Brandstrup stated that ending deforestation is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to curb global warming. She said that Sri Lanka needs to have a strong commitment to increasing forest cover, and to do so require a mechanism of incorporating forests and trees within an appropriate natural resource management strategy that can be maintained and enhanced.
“We all need to recommit to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in Sri Lanka, while finding ways to manage forests in a sustainable manner and conserve Sri Lanka’s forests while seeking new partnerships to increase the islands forest cover. This is exactly what the proposed national REDD+ strategy aims to achieve in a collaborative manner with all the major stakeholders of forests in Sri Lanka,” she added. Endorsing these comments, the keynote speaker of the occasion, Dr. Suren Batagoda, Secretary, Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy, outlined factors on the significance of renewable energy in the future and pointed out that Sri Lanka has great potential to generate renewable energy. He explained that “greater investment in sustainably managed forests is the key to increasing forests’ role as a major source of renewable energy”.
Alexis Corblin, Chief Technical advisor, Sri Lanka UN-REDD Programme provided an insight into the approach taken by the proposed national REDD+ strategy, whilst the leader of the indigenous peoples’ community, Uruwarige Wannila Eththo, delivered some thought-provoking facts on the value of forests. The winners from amongst the 31 applications received were announced during the International Day of Forests celebration of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment. The winning entry was the video titled “Camping in the forest” by Risla Naffes, whilst the second and third prizes were bagged by video entries ‘Dear Future’ by Pavithra Perera and “The last seed” by Joel Jairus.
The winner of the 1st Prize was awarded with a cash prize of Rs. 100,000 sponsored by Insee Cement, with the 2nd and 3rd prizes being Rs 75,000 and Rs 50,000 respectively.