60 acres of land dedicated to conserve bio diversity in the heart of Colombo almost sounds like a figment of our imagination. Located a hop step away from the parliament complex in Sri Jaywardenapura Kotte is Diyasaru- Wetland park nestled and hidden away amidst the surrounding urbanisation. We visited the place to explore and find more details.
The park was constructed as an initiative by the Land Reclamation and Development Cooperation to serve many a purpose. As stated by Asela Iddawala, the Chairman of the cooperation
“When we develop cities and pave way for urbanisation we completely disregard the conservation of bio diversity”
which in turn leads to issues that no development plan can solve.
A matter that concerns a large part of the western province and directly relates to the above statement is flood retention. The conservation of the wetlands in the province is of paramount importance if we are to make any progress in this regard.
As opposed to conventional attempts of conservation by restricting entry to human civilisations, this 60-acre plot of land is converted to a park that invites humans to protect it for themselves. From building fences and placing warning signs, the authorities have progressed to deliver the message more subtly and appealingly.
Speaking to us Dr. N. S. Wijerathne, Deputy General Manager of the Wetland Management Division of the cooperation also added that the park will carry educational programmes for students of all ages from Kindergarten to University. What we found to be most interesting about this initiative is the concept of ‘De-stress’. To provide relief for flood-stress, the stress of carbon dioxide emission to the environment and finally to de-stress all individuals who enter the park. Having recognised that no development will benefit the human kind if the latter is achieved, the authorities are taking steps to make sure that the wetland-experience will be a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city that surrounds it.
Walking in we could have never guessed that the land houses 28 species of dragonflies, an important biological integrator in an ecosystem.
Sandun Bandara, environmental officer at the site, enlightened us on how the dragonflies are an indicator of clean water for they won’t lay eggs elsewhere and are unable to complete their life cycle without it, (just like dengue mosquitoes) but the former may even be used to take down the latter if manipulated intelligently!
Home to 5 fishing cats, otters, 28 species of reptiles, 7 species of mammals, over 80 species of birds with a dedicated zone for butterflies that has over 40 species. The list goes on!
Speaking to us, Nadee Hettiarachchi, Senior Engineering Assistant at the site walked us through the conservation projects currently underway including the observation of behaviour of the fishing cat for the first time in Sri Lanka. This is a species one may never spot anywhere else in the western province. The land is also abundant with an invasive plant species called ‘Pond apple’, a species with a fondness towards wetland which unfortunately destroys most of its heterogeneity, but at the same time provides a suitable habitat for the fishing cat. The wetland park will be a paradise for birdwatchers and nature photographers when completed with a birdwatching tower and other developments that are sure to elevate the experience to the next level. Earlier this year The Annual Migrant Bird Watch hosted by Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (FOGL) was also held at ‘Diyasaru’.
Even at present, a large number of students from schools and universities make their way to the park for educational purposes. The butterfly garden constructed together with the Department of Zoology, University of Colombo bear proof.
Knowledge on venomous and non-venomous snakes is unquestionably of great importance to anyone living in a tropical island as ours. Addressing this, officers at the park intend to continue the monthly programmes they conduct on reptiles and are willing to accommodate your requests to fine-tune them. With the construction of the study centre and developments added to the existing laboratory, the park is sure to be a complete educational experience to all who share an interest in the subject.
Sandun further added that they intend to include many additions from a commercial perspective too, to make sure that the place appeals to a broader audience. To name a few, an environment friendly children’s park, a night camp at a reptile zone and boat rides along the canals that surround the little islands. For anyone who shares no interest in the subject, the park can also be used as a site for your wedding shoot too!
Although the park has been around for a few years, the 3rd of October marked its relaunch as ‘Diyasuru- Wetland Park’ making way for rapid developments.
The relaunch also partnered with the Institute of Environmental Professionals in Sri Lanka as they hosted their 11th general meeting along with their annual sessions under the theme of ‘Rescuing wetlands for future economic growth’ - a topic that’s most appropriate to be discussed at the venue. Speaking about the event, Ajith Athugala, Council Member for IEPSL highlighted that Colombo wetlands are no longer in a state to be conserved or managed but rescued!
Yes, it conserves the bio diversity, provides a solution to a major environmental crisis but most importantly for you and I, Diyasaru will provide a quick escape from the city. If you want to sit down, relax and get lost in your thoughts, this is the place to be.
Open 6 days of the week - Monday to Saturday from 6am-6pm.
Call them if you have inquiries -0112073550/071 0414246
Sandun Bandara- Environmental Officer
“We intend to include many additions from a commercial perspective too, to make sure that the place appeals to a broader audience. To name a few, an environment friendly children’s park, a night camp at a reptile zone and boat rides along the canals that surround the little islands.”
Nadee Hettiarachchi - Senior Engineering Assistant
“There are many conservation projects currently underway including the observation of behaviour of the fishing cat for the first time in Sri Lanka. This is a species one may never spot anywhere else in the western province.”