Department of National Botanic Gardens DG Dr. Shelomi Krishnarajah
By Chandani Kirinde
Dried plant specimens
The country’s botanic gardens attract thousands of both local and foreign visitors each year with the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens taking pride of place as the best and most visited garden. Last year, when the Gardens celebrated its bicentenary, many activities were undertaken to draw public attention to the need to conserve nature and the Island’s unique flora which is coming under growing strain with the increase in population and large-scale development projects that leads to clearing of vast tracts of forests and jungles.
The Department of National Botanic Gardens, which comes under the Ministry of Tourism, plays an essential role in both preserving vast extents of natural habitat in areas demarcated as botanic gardens and also educating the public on how everyone can start in their own gardens to learn more about the country’s unique flora. The Director General of the Department Dr. Shelomi Krishnarajah in an interview with the Daily FT spoke on the importance of botanic gardens and future plans to extend its activities. Here are excerpts of the interview:
Q: What are the botanic gardens that come under the purview of your department?
There are five botanical gardens of which the gardens at Peradeniya, Hakgala, Henarathgoda (Gampaha) were started during the early part of 19th century by the British to conduct experiments on exotic plants and explore plant wealth in the island. Two new botanic gardens were established in Mirijjawela, Hambantota for conservation of dry zone plants and in Avissawella for conservation of wet zone plants. In addition to these a National Medicinal Plant Garden was established in 1950s at Ganewatta to promote conservation, sustainable use and management of medicinal plants
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