Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the leading ICT solutions provider in the country and responsible corporate citizen launched its calendar for the year 2016 under the theme “Wild Fruits of Sri Lanka”. The calendar was launched during a special event held on Wednesday, 16th December 2015 at SLT premises in Fort Colombo. Prof. Devaka Weerakoon, Senior lecturer, Zoology Department, University of Colombo, Mr. Samantha Gunasekara, former Deputy Director of Customs – Biodiversity, Cultural and National Heritage Protection Division and Mr. Jagath Gunawardana, Senior Environment Lawyer also graced the event and encouraged those present on the importance of environmental conservation, and of preserving wild fruits in particular.
For several years, the company has gained the reputation for producing calendars and complimentary items that provide a gamut of rich educational content for students and the general public alike. Furthermore, the SLT calendar has also become an important and most valued item amongst collectors due to its unique artistic value and creativity. Each year, SLT produces these calendars under the main theme “preserving heritage for tomorrow”, with sub-themes that alternate its focus between arts and culture and biodiversity of Sri Lanka. The importance of this heritage has been forgotten by society and it is currently dying or in decline and there is a pressing need to revive it and ensure its sustainability so that the future generations also will be able to enjoy and be benefitted by this rich heritage. The company believes that this can be done through educating and encouraging the public on the importance of preserving the rich heritage that Sri Lanka has been endowed with – be it an art form, cultural tradition or biodiversity – such is the vision of SLT behind the production of this calendar, to educate the public about the importance of wild fruit as well as the important role they play in our ecosystem, our health as well as our economy with the vision of “preserving heritage for tomorrow”.
Wild fruits have various benefits: from a health aspect, they are much more nutritious than cultivars due to their high fibre content and are full of rich nutrients and medicinal value; from an environmental point of view, they contribute significantly to biodiversity and keeping our ecosystem in balance; economically, they have the potential to be developed into new varieties of delicious fruit, hence such wild species are an invaluable resource to a country. Sadly today however, the knowledge about wild fruits and their uses have degenerated over the years and they are becoming increasingly rare, with cultivated fruits taking the centre stage.
Speaking at the launch, SLT Chairman Mr. P.G. Kumarasinghe Sirisena said, “It is a growing concern that the value of wild fruits have not been clearly understood or have been forgotten over the years. Wild fruits are becoming increasingly rare mainly due to destruction of their natural habitats and also due to the degeneration of indigenous knowledge concerning wild fruits, their harvesting techniques and preparation. So this is why we decided to base our 2016 Calendar on the theme ‘Wild Fruits of Sri Lanka’ because the first step to conservation is educating the public. Through these calendars and other programmes that we have lined up for the coming year aligned with the theme “Wild Fruits of Sri Lanka”, we hope to raise awareness amongst the general public about the importance of wild fruits so that we can come together and help to preserve them for the future generations.”
Approximately 120 species of wild fruit types have been recorded in Sri Lanka. Even though some species are flourishing due to high demand, others are on the verge of becoming rare today. SLT encourages the public to join together with them and support towards preserving the wild fruits of Sri Lanka for the future generations.
SLT Calendar 2016 was produced after much research and with the valuable support and advice of Dr. Samantha Suranjan Fernando - Field Ecologist, Center for Applied Biodiversity Research and Education who was the resource person for SLT Calendar 2016.