Colombo bird park project Harmonising birds’ conservation into practices of tourism | Sunday Observer

Colombo bird park project Harmonising birds’ conservation into practices of tourism

18 July, 2021

Some cities in the world are heavily populated and extensively modified ecosystems where the town dwellers are provided with significant ecosystem services both by the plants and animals. The role played by the birds in particular in such an endeavour is of paramount significance. Researchers declare that the presence of birds most importantly makes a considerable contribution towards the mental health and self- rated wellbeing of the people.

For instance, the colourful appearance of the birds, it is found that has the ability of providing an aesthetic enjoyment which is able to make the onlookers feeling happy and relaxed. Furthermore, the people’s self-reported wellbeing as well as that of the appreciation of landscape is increased by the bird song diversity.

Parks and birds in cities

In urban areas, parks can be considered as important bird habitats which provide food and nesting places. In terms of the regional scale, in the built-up areas, the habitat islands are formed by the urban parks. And these habitat islands connect with the other vegetation patches and constitute a ‘habitat network‘. Moreover, parks in cities along the main migratory bird flyways are considered as prominent stopovers for migrant birds. The highest human - bird interactions in the cities are also accommodated by parks. This is also included with bird watching and casual bird encountering.

It is generally known that compared with the bird habitats which are remotely located, the urban parks are seen being visited more often. You find that the people are easily able to get closer to birds where they get an opportunity of observing birds of different types while being at one location in the park. As a result of that, parks get attracted to birdwatchers. 

Undoubtedly tourism and the conservation sector are able to share mutual benefits. Harmonising the birds’ conservation into the practices of tourism in some countries have brought out many benefits in the tourism sector.

The businesses which take the protection of birds into account are able to differentiate themselves from among their competitors; getting more attractive to local, regional and international tourists who are sensitive to environmental and ecological issues. Internationally bird watching is an enhancing market which is not yet exploited in a country like Sri Lanka in spite of its significant economic potential.

It is also noted that urban planning, biodiversity protection and green space management are required to predict the habitat of the species and estimate the quality of the habitat. As said by researchers the urban green infrastructure biodiversity protection and ecosystem are benefited by using ‘MaxEnt’ to model bird habitat. And also it would provide a scientific basis for urban green infrastructure planning and designing.

Protecting wetlands and birds

While giving his comments on the ‘Colombo Bird Park Project’, Anura Prasanna, Director, Real Estate, Urban Development Authority (UDA) said that the project is heavily concerned with the protection of wetlands which is also one of its central objectives. He further noted that a lease of 30 years is involved with the project and of which value is determined by the Government Chief Valuer.

According to the procurement guidelines of the Government and land alienation policy of the Government, a private sector investor with a vast of experience is being selected for the project in transparent manner. The Park is expected to be constructed on a design, build, finance, and operate basis, Prasanna said. He said that the completion of the construction will be done while ensuring the protection of the Madiwela wetland.