Jan 16, Colombo: The Government has implemented a number of projects with the aim to increase the forest cover of Sri Lanka from 27% to 32% in order to reach the sustainable development goals of the country by the year 2030.
The Sri Lanka Air Force has also come forward to assist reforestation efforts of the government. Accordingly, one of their unique projects is ‘seed bombing’ - aerial spraying of seeds to selected locations.
The fourth phase of the project was launched Thursday on the instructions of the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana.
About 70,000 seeds were aerially sprayed covering an area of about 60 acres in the Lahugala National Park in Ampara, the Air Force Media Center said. It has been done on three flights.
The Command Agro Unit at SLAF Base Katunayake under the leadership of Air Commodore Suharshi Fernando and with the collaboration of the Forest Conservation Department and the University of Peradeniya organized the mission. MAS Holdings contributed to this project by providing seeds which were used to fabricate seed bombs.
The seed bombs were dropped using a MI-17 Helicopter which departed from SLAF Station Ampara. The bombs comprised from 8 types of native trees, Ehela (Cassia fistula), Mee (Madhuca longifolia), Karanda (Pongamia pinnata), Mailla (Vitex altissima), Tamarind (Tamarindus indica), Kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna), Koan (Schleichera oleosa) and Madatiya (Adenanthera pavonina) which are suited to the Dry Zone.
The first wave of the mission was executed at Ranorawa Government Forest in the year 2018 as a pilot project over a five acres land area and approximately 5,000 seed bombs were released. During the second wave 67,000 seed bombs were dropped over a 60 acre area inside the forest of Lahugala in Ampara in the year 2019. The third wave which was conducted in December 2020 saw the dropping of approximately 30,000 seed bombs over a 25 acres land area within the Lahugala National Park.
Continuous supervision, data gathering and recording are carried out by the Command Agro Unit to monitor the progress of seed bombing missions. This is to monitor how plants from these seed bombs have germinated and are growing in changing environmental conditions, the Air Force Media said.