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The United Nations General Assembly has declared 11th December, from 2003 onwards, as the International Mountain Day aiming to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain conservation and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to the world’s mountains and highlands.

International Mountain Day is celebrated globally every year on 11th December.  Accordingly, the Biodiversity Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment commemorates the International Mountain Day with the support of relevant stakeholders annually. The theme of the International Mountain Day of this is “Restoring Mountain Ecosystems”. This theme had been selected to give an opportunity to increase awareness on importance of mountain ecosystems and call for nature-based solutions, best practices and investments that build resilience, reduce vulnerability and increase the ability of mountains to adapt to daily threats and extreme climatic events.

Biodiversity Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment successfully commemorated the International Mountain Day on 11th December at the Manewa Kanda (MK) Forest Reserve is located in Anuradhapura district with the financial support from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This programme was organized in collaboration with the District Forest Office, Anuradhapura.

Manewa Kanda has been identified as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) and also is an important archeological site. This ESA consists of rich diversity of endemic flora and fauna species and diverse ecosystems. Therefore, it is considered as the ecological heart of Ipalogama Divisional Secretariat Division. However, due to various reasons biodiversity of this is in under threat due to spreading Invasive Alien Species and forest fires.

The aim of the above programme was to make the officials and communities aware on mountain tourism, and the archeological and biological Importance of the Manawa Kanda. This also promotes the sustainable tourism for relevant government officers, tour guides and youth groups. Invasive grasses (Panicum maximum) were removed and native species were restored at selected area of Manewa Kanda.

Ms. Sujeewa Fernando, Director (Biodiversity Secretariat) explained the Importance of International Mountain Day, Dr.Mahesh Priyadarshana, Executive Course Director at Sri Lankan SEALS shared his expertise on mountain biodiversity and sustainable tourism and Mr. H.E Dinesh Saman Kumara, Zonal Officer, Department of Archeology explained the Archeological value of the Manewa Kanda.  Around 75 Officers from various institutions including Biodiversity Secretariat of Ministry of Environment, Forest Department, Department of Archeology, Department of Wildlife Conservation, Central Environment Authority, Ipalogama Divisional Secretariat, Rajarata University, Ipalogama Environment Society, Hotel Association (Anuradhapura), Ipalogama Police Station, Healthy Landscape project participated for the programme of commemorating the International Mountain Day.

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