Written by Zulfick Farzan
08 Feb, 2021 | 6:55 pm
Colombo (News 1st); Environmentalists have strongly opposed to any move to relocate the only surviving tree of the Sri Lankan Legume or Crudia zeylanica was saved in the nick of time on Sunday (07).
There are serious concerns as to whether Sri Lanka in fact has the technlogy required to relocate such an important and rare tree, questioned environmentalist Nayanaka Ranwella.
The company tasked with relocating the tree is one which was accused of illegally taking over lands owned by the Department of Wildlife Conservation, he alleged.
On Monday (08) several personnel from the company engaged in the construction of the expressway from Kadawatha to Meerigama visited the location in question, however did not respond to questioned posed to them.
‘We are no (not) cutting the tree,” said a Chinese national who was among them.
The Sri Lanka legume (Crudia zeylanica) was discovered and named a new species in 1868.
Since then, however, there is no record of it even being seen, and it was eventually presumed to be extinct.
The IUCN Red List of 2006 categorizes it as extinct, as does the National Red List of 2012, prepared by Sri Lanka’s ministry of environment.
It was known only from the herbarium specimens collected more than a century ago, and drawings, since there were no photographs of a living plant until its rediscovery in 2019 by three young research scientists.
The plant did not have a photograph of it till it was rediscovered; even Sri Lanka’s National Herbarium only had a sketch.
The only surviving tree of the Sri Lankan Legume or Crudia zeylanica was rediscovered in a small plot of forest land located close to the Daraluwa Railway Station in Gampaha
Conservation Biologist and Plant Taxonomist Himesh Dilruwan Jayasinghe was the first to discover that Crudia zeylanica is a plant that grows in Sri Lanka’s wet-zone.
This his species is deemed a protected species under the provisions of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, said environmentalist Jagath Gunawardena adding it is prohibited to destroy or cause harm to this tree.
Gampaha Division Wildlife Officer Devani Jayathilaka visited the site just in time to prevent the workers from destroying the Critically Endangered Level Crudia zeylanica on Sunday (07).
“If I did not turn up, the tree would be no more,” she said, adding the entire eco-system in the area was destroyed by those who do not understand the importance of the environment.
“We cannot recreate such an ecosystem,” she warned.
A proposal to construct a playground in the Kadolkele mangrove of the Negombo lagoon had been withdrawn following the strong stand taken by the Gampaha District Forest Officer Devani Jayathilaka, last year.
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