Sri Pada with the Class of 2011 Environmental Systems & Societies Class
Every winter just before the first school semester draws to a close I have the privilege of taking my grade 11 IB Environmental Systems & Societies class for a three-day field trip to the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary in Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands. The aim of the trip is to expose students to natural as well as human-impacted ecosystems in the Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) area. Much time is spent getting there and back but it remains a key learning experience for our students. We spend most of our time looking at issues of vertical zonation in sub-montane and montane (cloud) forest. We mapped our track and are now working on a GIS generated map of the area’s vegetation (along with contour lines etc.). I have the students focus on plants but we also take note of birds, reptiles and amphibians that we come across. The trip is designed for exposure rather than hard data gathering (something that they will do in Sinharaja in May). As usual we stayed at the Maskeliya Estate Fishing Hut bungalow. It offers few creature comforts but is an ideal site for a field study and is set on the boundary between the vast tea estate and undisturbed montane forest.
This year I took eleven enthusiastic students, many who had been in my grade 10 Geography class which did a field trip to Horton Plains National Park. Of the three Sri Lankan students none had been to this sacred mountain before! Our second day was spent climbing up slowly through the montane and then cloud forest to the summit of Sri Pada (2,243 m). I had a unique and unusual experience of meeting a Buddhist monk from Chittagong (Bangladesh) on the way up. We enjoyed a lengthy discussion in Bangla as we completed the last steps and arrived at the temple mid day! These pictures (all digital) were taken on the trip.