Biodiversity Study Park, Thalawathugoda, Sri Lanka
Name of organisation: Wetland Management Division, Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation
Number of staff:
Number of visitors per year:
Overall aims of the centre
To provide practical education on biodiversity and urban wetlands
Description of the centre
Extending about 60 acres, the Biodiversity Study Park, Thalawathugoda is located in within an urbanized area within close proximity to the parliament, in Sri Jayawardanapura, the administrative capital of Sri Lanka. This will be the first Biodiversity Study Park in the country and it is being constructed in an urban wetland which consits of marshy areas, woody patches, artificially created lake and ponds. Being a wetland, this park serves home for many different animals and marshy plants, especially temporary homes for migratory birds. Giving home for more than 30 species of wetland birds, over 25 of butterfly species, many types fishes, insects, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and many terrestrial and aquatic plant species, this park indicates high biodiversity value especially remarking the value of urban wildlife. One of the special biotic features of this park is, existence of large number of dragonfly species revealing that, this is a very good home for such tiny creatures which provides all required facilities to them.
Not only the biodiversity value but also this marsh plays a critical role in urban flood control by acting as a flood retention area. Currently the park contains a study center, board walks for walking through the wetland, butterfly garden, bird hide, ground water wells, childrens’ pond, rush and reed pond and boat riding facilities, where as, the bird watching tower is currently under constrcution. In the future, there will be more items such as, a visitor center with vast range of exhibits and interactive learning devices, a herbarium, a laboratory and a mini theater. Once the park is opened to the public we expect to attract about 85,000 number of visitors per year.
Students are the main target group of this park and we are targeting students ranging from primary education up to tertiary education. Students will get an opportunity to learn biodiversity education through a wetland ecosystem by various practical activities, and all of these activities have been designed according to their age categories and school curriculums. These activities include bird watching, water and soil quality testing, butterfly education, dragonfly watch, wetland animals and plant observation, ground water testing and interactive learning sessions. University students or any other researchers have the opportunity to conduct their studies independently and all the equipment and guidance will be provided by the park. We are currently conducting many workshops, seminars, collaborative projects with universities to enhance the biodiversity education and awareness of urban wetland importance.
Top three successes
Even though the park is still being constructed, we have conducted many activities and some major activities carried out were in 2014 as follows;
1. World Wetland Day – 2014
To celebrate world wetland day a workshop was conducted in the park for school children of age group 12-16. Many university students also participated sharing their practical knowledge and experiences with school children. The main objective of the day was enhancing practical education on biodiversity and ecosystem services of urban wetlands. During the program, many practical sessions were carried out. E.g.: water quality analysis, soil analysis, ground water analysis and presentations of wetland biodiversity. At the end students were required to evaluate the workshop. It was revealed that they very much appreciated practical knowledge from the study park.
The World Environment Day – 2014 was celebrated with the participation of 60 school children and university students. The theme of the day was “Climate Change and Urban Wetlands”. Practical knowledge on wetland flora and fauna, soil, water, impact of climate change on wetlands and role of wetlands in climate change resilience and mitigation were given to the students. Students were assigned to different groups and asked to study a given topic through various experiments. For most of the students, this was the very first experience of using and handling field and laboratory equipment such as binoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes and multi-parameter water quality meter by themselves.
3. Wetland Program for Youth
Wetland Management Division together with Sri Lanka Water Partnership, an independent non-profit organization, organized this workshop at the Biodiversity Study Park, Thalawathugoda, to build up knowledge on urban wetlands among youth groups. The participants consisted of university students and members of two non-profit youth organizations in Sri Lanka. Lectures and group activities were conducted related to urban wetland management followed by a field visit in the park.
Creating signage; site information; Producing written materials; Using audio-visual tools; Developing nature trails
Setting up a new visitor centre; Managing / creating habitat;Building / maintaining structures
Working with disabled people; Engaging hard-to-reach groups; Engaging young people; Engaging the local community;
Working with volunteers
Education and communication
Early years education; Delivering adult education; Working with primary schools; Lobbying / running campaigns; Working with secondary schools; Developing resources / materials
Chethika Gunasiri, Environmental Scientist, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile: +94710521537, Skype : chethika.gunasiri
Address: Wetland Management Division, Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation, No. 03, Sri Jayawardanapura Mw,
Welikada, Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka