WANAKASET IN SRI LANKA
Wanakaset in Sri Lanka, "your forest retreat with a sense of purpose", is located in the sacred rain forest of Kitulgala on the banks of Kilani River, Wanakaset in Sri Lanka will offer a breathtaking view of the Kitulgala valley, its magnificent tea plantation and astonishing highlands. The exclusive environment of the forest provides a haven for people in need of privacy and serenity.
WHAT WE DO...
At Wanakaset, we are doing our best to help the forest generate a healthy soil by embracing the traditional farming techniques within a forest akin to Permaculture, Agroforestry or Perma Forest. A place where humans and other living organisms can find shelter and food in a natural habitat. We preserve and enhance the symbiotic relationships between microbes, fungi, insects, plants and animals.
Wanakaset in Thai means Forest Agriculture or Agroforestry- Wana (forest) Kaset (Agriculture) both words are of Sanskrit origin and have synonyms in Singala.
At Wanakaset, we have fun planting different varieties of trees, and caring for them until they reach the age of self-sufficiency to create a healthy soil. A soil full of wealth which can produce food, shelter and medicine in abundance. The infrastructure our ancestors left behind hundreds of years ago helped us in our efforts. Nevertheless, the multiple terraces ranging from 300 to 600 meters’ altitude above sea level, the slopes of the foot paths and the graven rocks that we need to climb turns every farming activity into a Boot Camp !
SOME HISTORY ...
There is evidence that the forest we are looking after in France’s Pyrenees has been supplying food for humans long before the rise of the Roman Empire. People developed terraces that survived hundreds of years to produce vegetable gardens and other crops in the middle of the wild forest. The war efforts and the extensive use of wood overran the area with fast growing trees. Louis XIV's warships were born! Soon after, Cork Oak and Oak were introduced along with other wood trees for charcoal production to fuel the local forges, making use of the abundant iron ore of the Mount Canigou.
Finally, a complex climate, a few forest fires and a changing economy, slowly transformed the landscape and the forest was left alone for 70 years.
The forest we look after in Sri Lanka went through similar predicament. Once a lush rain forest used by humans to produce food crops in conjunction with a multitude of fruit and edible leaf trees, the laws of economics turned the area into mono culture. Rubber was badly needed worldwide, Tea, Cinnamon and other spices were highly sought after by sailing merchants, first the Arabs and the Chinese, the Guajarati, then the Venetians, the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British merchants. We took over the land at the end of a Rubber tree cycle from the previous owner. We asked for the logic behind the clearcutting and were told that over time, the soil becomes impoverished and the rubber yield drops below the minimum economic threshold to remain competitive. All trees were then cut and sold as wood and the primary forest regained control and rebuilt itself. However, as Claude Bourguignon highlighted, it can take a few decades before the soil regains the necessary strength to feed lives.
No matter how painful or dramatic change may sound, such is the story of almost every piece of land on earth. In some cases, overgrazing and farming turned hundreds of square kilometres into empty deserts for a couple of hundred years, but sooner or later, life takes over again. Just like the rebirth following Ice Age or a Volcano eruption. Our focus today is on accelerating the restauration of soil through biodiversity, by planting thousands of different kinds of fruit trees, edible leaf trees, flowers and other plants. We are experimenting with Phytosociology without altering nor blocking the rest of the forest’s inhabitants. In a couple of decades, assuming Wild Bores, Deer and Porcupines show kindness and a collaborative spirit, it might become a healthy place attracting a diverse suite of living creatures and generating a healthy soil.
In both Sri Lanka and France, we acquired the rights and the responsibility to look after the soil, which in turn will enable thousands of different trees to grow. It is like inheriting the duty to protect and rejuvenate these areas into magnificent homes for billions of microbes, fungi, insects, birds, mammals, trees and plants. Founders, Members and Donors of Wanakaset share a simple passion and unconditional love of nature with humility.