A climate change combatting initiative of Sri Lankan Parliamentarian and environmental activist Ven. Athuruliye Rathana, Matha, introduced by the Matha Foundation on 22 February this year will take a new turn on 30 March.
Environmental enthusiasts will take part in an 11-day tree planting cycle safari from Colombo to the North of Lanka which will conclude on 9 April. The next stage of the tree planting cycle safari will commence thereafter in the rest of Sri Lanka.
The project has received the support of Sri Lankans irrespective of ethnicity or religion. Among the brand ambassadors of the Matha program, are those such as Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Diyawadana Nilame Pradeep Nilanga Dela, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, Harry Jayawardena, Otara Gunawardena and Kumar Sangakkara.
The tree planting bicycle safari will commence from Colombo which will see the cultivation of shade giving trees as well as those providing medicinal value, in Viharamahadevi Park and places of importance in the capital.
Trees will be planted in religious and other significant locations the cycling team will stop at en-route to the North, such as Kelaniya, Gampaha, Kurunegala and Kandy and thereafter to Anuradhapura, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi and finally Jaffna.
Key ceremonies are planned in Kandy involving the Maha Sangha and other religious dignitaries. In the North wide-scale support has been provided by officials of Hindu temples for the tree planting mission in the North, environmental activists connected to the Matha Foundation said.
“This is the first step that will envisage the growth of 20 million trees around Sri Lanka within two to three years,” says Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero, pioneer and founder of the project who functions as the Chief Advisor of the Matha Foundation. He explains that the use of cycles for the inauguration of this mission is to show the sustainability of using a non-polluting mode of transport for the good of the country and planet.
“Overall we wish to cultivate 100 million trees around the globe to create a sustainable world in keeping with the sustainable goals of the United Nations,” says Ven. Rathana Thero who attended the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, as a representative of the Sri Lankan Government.
During this conference he proposed the new idea that the principles of climate change should be put into action in the countries with less than two ton carbon capacity, to which many international environmentalists had agreed.
Returning home he initiated the discourse of climate change through inter religious discussions and thereby decided for a local as well as global approach. The Matha program which has so far received support from a wide range of Lankan individuals, endeavours to securing human wellbeing as well as the planet.
Among the key objectives of Matha, is to look at protecting the air, streams, protecting medicinal plants of Sri Lanka and thus the traditional medicine heritage of the nation, ensuring a people with strong immunity consuming non-chemical food and reducing global warming.
The initiative seeks to assist Sri Lanka achieve the UN sustainable human development goals and creating locally driven mechanisms to achieve this objective.