The Kodigahakanda forest in the Olaboduwa North Grama Niladhari division in Horana will be declared a sanctuary in November under the Forest Conservation Department, K.Munagam (President of MEDEF, that is, the Mihithala Mithuro Environmental Development Foundation)told the Daily News. “This is the first wildlife sanctuary in the Kalutara district,” he said. Kodigahakanda bio-diversity centre at Gonapola was opened by Kalutara District Parliamentarian Vidura Wickramanayake on Sunday.
Kodigahakanda Conservation Society and Mihithala Mithuro Environmental Development Foundation (MEDEF) with the financial support of Global Environmental Foundation (GEF) through United Nation’s Development Program (UNDP), built this centre to conserve the biodiversity of the forest with the participation of the regional community. The initial financial allocation for the centre was Rs 1.5 million.
Kodigahakanda is an 18 acre secondary scrub jungle on top of a granite based hill rock, 378 feet above sea-level at its highest point. It is located in a 600 acre coconut plantation. Though the land belongs to philanthropist Rohan De Soyza, he has kept the forest without exploiting it for economic gains. He had wanted to keep the jungle unharmed for the benefit of diverse creatures living there.MEDEF Centre
According to studies, the forest has 133 varieties of flora,18 types of reptiles, 4 types of amphibians, 16 types of fish, 45 types of butterflies, 72 types of birds and 17 types of mammals. The villagers of the region had established the Kodigahakanda Conservation Community Foundation and Mihithala Mithuro Environmental Development Foundation 16 years ago to minimize the harm caused to the forest.
Kalutara district Parliamentarian Vidura Wickramanyaka addressing the opening ceremony of the biodiversity centre, said the government should have a firm and clear policy on environment and a productive dialogue among the public to preserve the environment for the next generation. A memorandum will be presented to Parliament to declare Horana as a special environment region, he said. The Global Environment Fund through its Small Grants Programme (SGP) provided grants to Kodigahakanda biodiversity center to improve the global environment and promote sustainable livelihoods.