Message from Devaraj Ratnam
The SLWCS was incorporated in Victoria, Australia as part of the organization's regional expansion into the Asia-Pacific zone. It is envisaged that this will facilitate Sri Lanka to better engage in environmental and socioeconomic issues in the region. This cooperation is important in the context of other countries in South and South-East Asia having concerns similar to those in Sri Lanka and sharing of knowledge and experience in these fields will prove to be beneficial to the region as a whole.
Moreover, Australia is playing an increasingly significant role in the affairs of the region and engaging socially, economically and environmentally with Asia. Thus, having an Australian branch improves the prospect of the SLWCS being able to qualify for conservation and development funds from Australian sources, either in the form of direct funding for projects under the SEHP banner or by way of consultancy and advisory opportunities for the SLWCS in Australian funded conservation projects in other parts of Asia.
Agricultural development is an integral part of the SLWCS' interventions as agriculture is the predominant livelihood of rural Sri Lanka wherein are also the environmentally vulnerable areas. Australian educational and research institutions are world-renowned for their research and development in agriculture and livestock management. The SLWCS (Australia) will act as a conduit for transferring knowledge and technology that will be of use in SLWCS's livelihood development projects.
The SLWCS (Australia) will also act as a public relations entity to publicize and garner community support in Australia for initiatives in Sri Lanka and other countries. Contributions in this respect may be financial or by way of expertise made available on a voluntary basis. It is expected that undergraduates from Australian Universities, students taking a 'gap year' prior to joining a tertiary institution and PhD/Masters research students will be attracted by the SLWCS volunteer program and thereby help to strengthen the capacity building aspects of our work.