Building a communitarian society in harmony with the natural world
We are a socially-conscious business. One would argue that those two elements are rarely used in a single sentence. At Makini, we make a conscious effort to identify the social aspects of the community around us and the communities we serve as a business. This helps us to better understand the needs of the people around us to uplift their livelihoods. However the ecosystem cannot be limited to just the community; the wildlife, fauna and flora; are very important to making our business a success. So it is our duty to safeguard, sustain and nurture this fragile ecosystem.
Responsible Tourism is about ensuring that the natural environment and all that lives and breathes within that environment is sustained and enriched through the operation. It extends to being conscious about what we produce, what we buy and use, and how we dispose of waste material.
We practice small-scale farming and fishing, water harvesting and extend our services to social enablement and job opportunities.
By engaging with the immediate community, our intent is to empower them to take action towards protecting the environment and thereby helping to build a sustainable livelihood. How do we do this? Through education and by providing them with the opportunities to thrive. There are a lot of traditional practices that have been passed down from generation to generation. Practices that are intertwined with nature which have helped them to sustain their livelihoods. Chena cultivation and mining have been commonplace here in the Southern province. However, people have looked to make a ‘better living’ by taking advantage of the wild inhabitants. Elephants are killed for their tusks, Pangolins are killed for their scales and flesh, many exotic gecko species are trafficked and the list goes on. This short-sightedness has had a damaging effect on the environment as a whole, needless to say. At the crux, it is poverty, but also greed.
We, at Makini, aim to educate and provide job opportunities not only within the bushcamp premises, but also as part of our supply chain of needs. We will provide the know-how and the resources needed to families to grow organic produce for their own consumption and purchase for the consumption of the camp residents and guests. Under the Makini Farms brand, we will use these organically grown fruits and vegetables, which are hand picked, to produce jams, compotes, chutneys and preservatives. Made by our own in-house cooks, we have hygienically bottled and made available to select retails outlets, online and at our bushcamp.
Our initial product line will consist of;
Tangy Mango Jam: Locally grown mangoes with a hint of citrus. We use semi-ripe mangoes stewed down together with grated lime peel to make a sweet and tangy delight.
Chunky Pineapple Compote: Organic pineapple infused with Ceylon cinnamon, to produce a delectable dessert accompaniment.
Mixed Fruit Compote: A mix of pineapple, mango, papaya and banana infused with lime, has become our flagship product. Carefully chosen ingredients together with the right preparation method has enabled us to produce this compote that you can indulge in, as a dessert or as a compliment to chicken or fish dishes.
Traditional Brinjal Moju: Pickled red onions, split green chillies, organic brinjal mixed with vinegar. This time tested combination is vegan friendly and is surely a rice-puller, as they say.
Sri Lankan Pickle: Semi-ripe papaya mixed with green chillies, small red onions mixed with ground mustard and vinegar, will liven up your lunch any day.
The proceeds from the sale of these bottled foods are 100% towards the employee and community welfare fund, helping to build them a sustainable livelihood.
Youth education and empowerment is a key focus area for us at Makini. As an initial effort, we have identified and helped some students who are financially deprived, yet enthusiastic about learning. We have been helped by the teaching staff of the Kataragama National School for this purpose. We will continue to seek and assist in every capacity possible.
Over the past few years, the habitat surrounding the bushcamp has been utilised for chena cultivation and gem mining. It is our intention to help regrow the forest in these surrounding areas, enriching the wildlife along with it. To do this, we work with local government authorities to ensure no invasive plants are introduced during this process. Within the compounds of the bushcamp, we have selectively grown fruiting and flowering trees to attract various insects and birds. We do this to enrich the biodiversity and enliven the surroundings at the same time.
Water sourcing and preservation is key for the bushcamp sustenance for all inhabitants. During the monsoon season, commencing from October, we collect and harvest rainwater by channeling it through a roof gutter system. The dining hall roof area is about 5000 sq.ft. On average, we are able to collect about 60,000 litres of rainwater to be utilised during the dry season.
We have also embarked on a long term project to lift the underground water table. By setting up barriers during the monsoon season, we’re able to prevent rainwater from flowing across the land, but rather direct the flow into constructed pits. This reduces the evaporation and allows the water to be naturally absorbed into the ground. This in turn, prevents erosion.
Our attempt is to grow and consume 100% organic fruits and veggies. We believe in the fact that plants don’t require artificial fertilisers. Nature has its own ways of finding what’s necessary and has the capability to give enough support for plants to grow and produce. We use compost, earth-worms, cow manure and dry leaves to treat and nourish the earth -- Introducing a natural earn and return cycle.
Predators and prey; ranging from the insects to reptiles and amphibians to large herbivores and carnivores -- all require special attention when operating a bushcamp. It is our responsibility to create an environment for all creatures to inhabit and thrive. When paving and building, our intent was to keep as much of the ‘wildness’ as possible.
There are at least 100 bird species that roam around the bushcamp. Tracking bird diversity through seasonal counts helps us to keep a tab of their numbers and behaviour. We consciously introduce and grow butterfly and insect friendly plants, to ensure most passerines have nectar producing plants and larvae to feed on. This is in addition to the fruiting plants. Increase of insect numbers inadvertently means the increase of lizards and reptiles. And that automatically signals more raptor species to inhabit the area.
We use camera traps to collect data of animal species in and around the bushcamp. There are some key species like the Pangolin, the most trafficked animal in the world. Through the use of this data, we are able to identify their routes and burrow networks, helping us to implement a program to educate and thereby eliminate poaching. We partner with field experts to do this.
Bee farming and honey harvesting is something that we recently introduced as a means to provide another revenue stream for the laborers. We do this with the knowledge that bees and other pollinator species contribute a great deal to the environment and not just to produce honey for human consumption.
Pollinators affect 35 percent of global agricultural land, supporting the production of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide. Pollinator-dependent food products contribute to healthy diets and nutrition. Pollinators are under threat – sustainable agriculture can reduce the risk to pollinators by helping to diversify the agricultural landscape and making use of ecological processes as part of food production.
Essentially, safeguarding bees helps to safeguard biodiversity; the vast majority of pollinators are wild, including over 20 000 species of bees.
“ We invite you to come, enjoy and contribute to our sustainability efforts. ”