Lankan conservationists welcome moves to abandon banana plantation by US based firm

- sundaytimes.lk

Sri Lankan conservationists couldnt be happier at the news of multinational food firm Dole based in the US abandoning plans to start a banana plantation at a national park, the BBC website reported.

Conservationists quoted by the site said Dole had hoped to team up with a local company, Letsgrow Ltd, to plant the bananas at the Somawathiya National Park.The park is home to elephants and other endangered species.

In a statement to the BBC, Dole said it had "ceased all commercial operations" on the land and was vacating it.

It denied earlier that the plantation would have been located on "land designated as forest land".

"The Department of Wildlife Conservation has been requested to visit the area for their confirmation," the statement said.

It said that Dole had met several Sri Lankan environmental and conservation groups in relation to claims by them that part of the proposed area of cultivation was in the park.

The Environmental Conservation Trust of Sri Lanka quoted by the BBC said that an area of about 5,000 acres was earmarked for the plantation, which would have necessitated a "massive clearing of forestry" in an area populated by rare leopards, birds and water buffalo.

The BBC website quoted trust members as saying Letsgrow Ltd - owned by cricketers Pramodya Wicramasinghe and Muttiah Muralitharan - acquired the land from the army.

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