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SACRED SKILLS

How religions and communities can work together to safeguard biodiversity

AS I SAT in a hotel lobby in Negombo, Sri Lanka, awaiting the arrival of Damitha Rajapakse, I pondered on the vast numbers of flies that seemed to enjoy the darker environs of the building. In other hotels, the premises were routinely sprayed with chemical insecticides, but this was an ‘eco-hotel’ which had made a commitment not to use chemicals of any kind, so the flies were flourishing. I mentioned this to Damitha, founder of the Biodiversity Lifeskills Foundation (BLF) in Sri Lanka, and his response set the tone for a very positive and rewarding meeting.

Damitha explained how, in years gone by, local people would have swept the floors of their houses (and hotel lobbies) with brooms made from the korokaha tree, which has antiseptic and insect-repellent properties. Sadly, due to rapid urbanisation and globalisation in Sri Lanka, this and much other traditional knowledge of plant biodiversity and usage is disappearing.  (more)

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