The Sri Lanka Air Force under the guidance of the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana together with the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Peradeniya and Central Environment Authority instigated the seventh wave of seed bombing at Wattegama Kebilitta Government Forest Reserve in the Siyamblanduwa Divisional Secretariat yesterday (29 October 2022).
The Command Agro Unit at SLAF Base Katunayake under the leadership of Group Captain PE Gunawardena and the Department of Forest Conservation organized this mission to achieve the aim of improving the forest density of Sri Lanka to reach the sustainable development goals of the country by increasing the forest cover from 27% to 32% by the year 2030.
The first wave of the mission was executed at the Ranorawa government forest in a five acres land area and approximately 5,000 seed bombs were released. During the second wave, 67,000 seed bombs were dropped over a 60 acres area inside the forest of Lahugala in Ampara. The third wave which was conducted in December 2020 saw the dropping of approximately 30,000 seed bombs over 25 acres of land area within the Lahugala National Park. The fourth wave was carried out in the Lahugala National Park where 70,000 seed bombs were dropped over a 60-acre area. The fifth wave was carried out in the Kebilitta Government Forest Reserve where 80,000 seed bombs were dropped over a 75 acres area. Through the sixth wave, 65,000 seed bombs were dropped on over 70 acres of area inside the same forestry at Siyambalanduwa Divisional Secretariat.
The seed bombs comprised native trees such as Kon (Schleichera oleosa), Kohomba (Azadirachta indica), Maila (Bauhinia racemose), Ma Dan (Syzygium cumini), Siyambala (Tamarindus indica), Mee (Madhuca longifolia), Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna), Kayaa (Swietenia macrophylla), Bulu (Terminalia belerica), Kithul (Caryota urens), Munamal (Mimusops elengi), Karanda (Millettia pinnata) and Ketakala (Bridilia retusa).
The total land area covered by this mission was approximately 80 acres with 100,000 seed bombs being dropped and this mission was planned to coincide with the monsoon rain season as well to maximize its effectiveness.
SLAF Station Weerawila was utilized as the staging base for this mission as it was 29.3 Nautical Miles from the selected area. The Bell-212 helicopter which was utilized for this mission was captained by Squadron Leader Ishan Silva while the Co-Pilot was Wing Commander Tyrone Munasinghe.