Our national parks provide some of the best and some of the last, remaining habitats for countless species. They provide visitors the opportunity to see animals in their natural setting and parks such as Udawalawe, Minneriya and Yala, have become a major attraction to wildlife enthusiasts.
But many of our national parks are being impacted by nearby development, pollution, recreational uses, and other human activities. In order to educate enthusiastic staff members, the Corporate Sustainability arm of HSBC organised an educational tour of Udawalawe National Park recently on the importance of wildlife conservation.
These volunteers together with Nick Nicolaou, Chief Executive Officer HSBC Sri Lanka and the Maldives were taken on an expedition by the officials of the Wildlife Conservation Department. They were all briefed of the natural habitat, its implications and preservation of the environment
The bank has been supporting the Department of Wildlife Conservation with the park clean up and visitor education programmes in Horton Plains since 1999 as part of its Corporate Sustainability efforts in Sri Lanka.
In 2004, the Bank further extended its support to five other National Parks namely Minneriya, Kaudulla, Wasgamuwa, Boondala and Udawalawe. The Peak Wilderness (Sri Pada) was the latest to be included in to the sponsorship programme. In addition, workers at Horton Plains and Peak Wilderness are provided with special clothing and shoes to help them carryout their work and protect them from harsh weather conditions.
Nicolaou said: “HSBC has held a longstanding partnership with the Department of Wildlife Conservation to protect six National Parks and Peak Wilderness by supporting the park maintenance programmes. The project is very much in line with HSBC’s efforts to maintain sustainable development and adopt good environmental practices which are considered fundamental aspects of sound business management. We are happy to involve our staff in such projects, as they play an integral part in this journey towards environment conservation.”
In 2009 the bank organised a similar educational tour for staff to the Minneriya National Park.
The Horton Plains site is considered a biodiversity treasure trove was added to the list of World Heritage on 30 July 2010 along with Peak Wilderness (Sri Pada), and the Knuckles Conservation Forest, by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee at its 34th sessions in Brazil, thus bringing the total number of World Heritage sites around the world to 892.