Ownership of Habitat: Geo Explore Foundation’s Triad of Conservation envisages a revolutionary approach to conservation and sustainable development. The picture is of a farmer’s family in an impoverished hamlet whose new pastime is planting which nets in a special income while also becoming stakeholders of conservation
As wild fires sweep across the world climate change has been reaffirmed as planet earth’s biggest threat with planting trees emerging as the single-largest collective effort. If growing forests was the need of the hour, Midea, the world’s largest manufacturer of consumer electronics has got a head start; with a groundbreaking conservation model taking roots in the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka.
Working with Midea’s Sri Lankan partner Telesonic, a far-reaching conservation and development project is underway in Sri Lanka under the purview of Geo Explore Foundation (www.geo-explore.org) where the focus is on sustainability driven through ownership of responsibility among all stakeholders.
While the world agrees that planting trees to raise the planet’s forest cover is time-crucial, experts also believe that just putting plants into soil isn’t the answer and are demanding a sustainable and systematic approach. The rule of thumb is ecological balance must be retained with the new plants while ensuring that plants are taken care of for at least three years.
Geo Explore Foundation is currently developing a model of conservation revolving around teachers and children with trees in the centre. The extensive strategy takes into consideration many underlying factors that contribute to degradation of biodiversity. Foremost among culprits are crumbling rural economies, threatened livelihoods, and lack of governance, values and awareness.
GEF’s sustainable model of conservation involves the identified triad with a solution based on tackling core issues while presenting a refreshingly resourceful intervention at grass-root level, making people who once destroyed forests the new guardians of nature. GEF’s revolution off the beaten-track is getting the attention of the Government of Sri Lanka as a role-model for the whole country and the world.
Sustainable reforestation is a humongous and costly challenge and this is exactly why the world’s CSR efforts in reforestation have become a fashionably one-time effort where plants are put into soil amidst fanfare. It is this same reason that makes Midea’s commitment all the more important. Midea and Telesonic have committed to sustaining 100,000 trees. That’s not all, the brands have realised the importance of sustainability and have endorsed an organisation working with people at different levels in ensuring ownership of conservation. “Midea is simply world-class and Telesonic completes the brand promise with Sri Lanka’s finest after-sales service; something the island nation has been longing for. That’s sustainability and our conservation and development efforts mute testimony to our work ethic,” says Telesonic Managing Director Arun Mahtani.
“With just trees alone, 100,000 trees take about 225 acres. There’s the issue of securing land, manpower, material and sustaining the new forests for at least three years. Then the challenge of bringing rural folk into the equation, leading them into sustainable economic and value development revolving around a carefully planned habitat – that’s another herculean task. But together with Midea and Telesonic, we are on our way,” says Geo Explore Foundation Director Operations Dr. Oshadhi Peiris. Sri Lanka’s first woman Eisenhower Fellow, she is an eminent development strategist and an attorney-at-law with great experience in women’s development, as well. She believes her team in close association with State stakeholders will be able to offer a poignant role-model in sustainable development; one that will enshrine the scope of sustainable development goals of the Sri Lankan Government.