|Going green and chic
"The first thing one notices when flying into Katunayake International Airport is the lush green foliage which covers our land," says Renton de Alwis, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. This abundance of greenery must be the greatest gift nature has bestowed on us. Using this as inspiration, The Rotary Club of Colombo Regency came up with a brilliant idea and project Green Cover was born.
Green Cover is organised by the Rotary Clubs of Colombo Regency and Kandy in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau. The project's aim is to plant 10 million trees in Sri Lanka over the next five years - no small feat. Yet the organizers hope to continue the project beyond the five years, and then inspire international organizations to join in and make this a global project. "At that point," points out Rtn. Chidhambaram Subramaniam, project chairman "ten million will seem like nothing."
The basic plan is to plant income generating trees such as mango and jak in village areas in every district.
The organizers will pay special attention to plants which are indigenous to certain areas, for example, cashew in Batticaloa. These trees will be nurtured by participating villagers, who can earn an extra income through them. The Rotary Clubs in each district will monitor the project's progress. Mr. Subramaniam says they would warmly welcome other organizations that would like to join hands with them in promoting their cause.
What is their cause? The main objectives of the Green Cover project are to combat Global Warming by reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere as well as to provide supplementary income to rural households. This goes on par with the Earth Lung initiative which the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau has taken with the vision of creating a carbon-free Sri Lanka.
"Global warming used to be a hot topic for discussion because it was fashionable to talk about it," says Mr. de Alwis, "now it's about survival." He also hopes to initiate a Tourism Earth Lung Community which will be another means of taking this project to a global level.
Green Cover was symbolically launched on November 29, 2007 at the Asgiriya cricket stadium with the first trees being planted by the captains and vice captains of the English and Sri Lankan national cricket teams.
Trees were also planted by them at the Galle cricket grounds. Following this, the Foundation of Goodness (founded by Muttiah Muralidaran and Kushil Gunasekera) has agreed to lend its fullest support towards the project, and has undertaken to plant 10,000 trees in the Seenigama area.
To raise funds for the project, the organizers have come up with a unique event; The Colombo Vogue Lifestyles Weekend. The event to be held over the May 30, 31 and June 1 weekend at the Hotel Galadari will open with a concert of modern fusion music titled Mantra on May 30 evening. The next two days will see a spectacular fashion extravaganza under the theme of Colombo Fashion Statement.
Featuring haute couture designer names Satya Paul, Shobhaa De and Lecoanet Hemant, the sarees will be modelled by the reigning Femina Miss India for Miss World - Parvathy Oman-akuttan, Femina Miss India for Miss Earth - Tanvi Vyas, Miss Sri Lanka, Miss Israel, Indian actress Neha Dupia and other beauty queens. The outfits will either be made of organic material or will feature motifs and patterns depicting nature and greenery. There will be a flower show titled 'Tropical Splendour' on the mornings of May 31 and June 1.
The concert on the first day features renowned flautist Bikram Singh, from the group Naadbrahma and local musicians Pradeep Ratnayake, Harsha Markalanda and Ravibandu Vidyapati. They will together record an album on the theme 'Preserve Planet Earth', the proceeds of which will also go towards the Rotary Sri Lanka Green Cover project.