Ian Lockwood

MUSINGS, TRIP ACCOUNTS AND IMAGES FROM SOUTH ASIA

Sinharaja: The IA Must Go On

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OSC’s class of 2021 DP Geography class. Standing from left: Kevin, Satwik, Imandi, Talia, Ashvini, Rukshi and Rika. Kneeling: the author and Rashmi (Class of 2020). Photograph courtesy of Desline Attanayake

In Sri Lanka we have been living through an age of disruption-first with senseless bombing in April 2019 and then with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The impact to the island’s tourism industry has been profound. Flights were cancelled in the spring of 2020 and the country went into lock down. At the time of writing the country was experiencing being called a 2nd wave of the virus. This all had an impact on Sinharaja, the resplendent rainforest that has a thriving, low-impact model of ecotourism at its two major entrances. It has served as a place for exploration and learning both at a personal level and for my students of the Overseas School of Colombo.

The IA Must Go On

In hindsight, the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year experienced a relative lull from the pandemic storm and we ran face-to-face classes. During that time I was able to take my small cohort of seven Class of 2021 DP Geography students to Sinharaja to complete their field work for their Internal Assessment (IA). The final report they produce is an important milestone along the 18-month journey of the course. It normally counts for between 20-25 % of their overall grade but because exams have been cancelled two years in a row, the IA is the only piece of work that the IB has to assess students. This school year it is slated to count for 35% of overall grades but it is likely that it will have a greater impact on how grades are allocated. Many schools have been forced to cancel field work and we were fortunate to be able to squeeze our trip in when the COVID situation was relatively stable. 

We had four days based out of Martin’s Forest Lodge. Desline was able to support the trip and we were supported by Rashmi who had just graduated and knew the data collection routines really well. Both of them enjoy birds and other creatures and we were a strong team. During our time the students were able to conduct 59 separate interviews in four teams of two. They used Survey 123 again and were able to explore the impact of COVID on lives and tourism. Over the next few months they processed and analyzed the data, mapped their sites and then produced final internal assessments (IA) reports. The GIS maps that students use to support their data and analysis had to be created in January during a relatively brief period of face to face teaching. Given that IB exams were cancelled this year it is gratifying that they had such rich experiences to build their internal assessments on.

Captions for Above Images

(Upper left) Satwik & Ashvini interviewing a tuk-tuk driver in western Kudawa.

(Upper right) Talia & Imandi interviewing Sunil, one of the most senior guides working at the Kudawa entrance.

(Lower right) Ashvini & Rukshi on the Sinhagala trail as we retreated back to the research station in the rain.

(Lower center) We got caught in a downpour looking for pit-vipers on the trail leading to Sinhagala. Talia & Imandi are prepared with an umbrella and jacket.

(Lower left) Talia & Imandi interviewing a family on the road to the west of Kudawa. They make a living growing tea on a small parcel of land.

(Center left) Thilak, Sinharaja’s talented and well known private guide, clears a tree that had fallen across the road leading to Martin’s lodge.

Captions:

(Top Left Image) Home Garden near Kudawa village showing a mix of  tea, coconut and other crops. The ridge above has a mix of Pinus sp. plantation and secondary forest with Alstonia macrophylla.

(Upper right image) Tea fields in a home garden in the area west of Kudawa village. Typically a field of tea is supplemented with a variety of other fruit and vegetable-bearing plant like this papaya tree. The shade tree is Gliricidia sepium, which is nitrogen fixing and used as an organic nutrient supplement.

(Middle right image) Forest Department Map of the Sinharaja Rainforest Complex showing the updated boundaries from 2019. This and several other maps are on display at the Kudawa entrance.

(Lower image) Scrub areas on the Sinharaja buffer near Kudawa being prepared for a new generation of tea plants.

The recently painted bus stand shelter pays artistic tribute to the denizens of Sinharaja. The COVID pandemic has forced a steep drop in visitor numbers.

Past Blog Posts on Sinharaja

Geography IA Trip 2007

Geography IA Trip 2008

Geography IA Trip 2009

Geography IA Trip 2012

Geography IA Trip 2013

Geography IA Trip 2014

Geography IA Trip 2015

Geography IA Trip 2016

Geography IA Trip 2017

Geography IA Trip 2018

Geography IA Trip 2019

General Sinharaja Reflections

SELECTED REFERENCES

DeZoysa, Neela and Rhyana Raheem. Sinharaja: A Rainforest in Sri Lanka. Colombo: March for Conservation, 1990. Print.

Lockwood, Ian. “Into the Wet: Field Notes From Sri Lanka’s Wet Zone.” Sanctuary Asia. August/September 2007. 3-11. Print. PDF.

Vigallon, S. The Sinharaja Guidebook for Eco-Tourists. Colombo: Stamford Lake Publications, 2007. Print.

Written by ianlockwood

2021-01-01 at 12:00 pm

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