Sri Lanka gifted a sapling of “Na” (Mesua ferrea) – the National Tree of Sri Lanka – to the prestigious Bogor Botanic Gardens Indonesia on 02nd July 2018. The sapling, nurtured for this purpose at Sri Lanka’s renowned Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya was brought to Indonesia in April 2018. The Bogor Botanic Gardens is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
This initiative by the Embassy of gifting the sapling was part of the series of events to commemorate 65 years of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
The sapling was planted on Monday jointly by Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Indonesia and ASEAN Mr. Dharshana M. Perera and Director, Bogor Botanic Gardens Dr. Didik Widyatmoko who was joined by Prof. Dr. Enny Sudarmonowati, Deputy Chairperson for Biology Sciences of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences(LIPI). The sapling is planted in a special area of the Gardens and is conveniently located for easy access of the public.
The sapling at Bogor Botanic Gardens is one of only two saplings of Mesua ferrea brought from Sri Lanka and planted in Indonesia. The other sapling was planted by H.E. President Maithripala Sirisena at the Sri Lanka Embassy premises in Jakarta during the historic State visit to Indonesia in March 2017.
In his welcome remarks, the Director of the Bogor Botanic Gardens Dr. Didik Widyatmoko expressed his gratitude to Sri Lanka for donating the sapling of the National Tree as a symbol of good collaboration between the two countries as well as between the two Botanic Gardens. He thanked the Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya for providing a healthy sapling of Mesua ferrea known in Indonesia as Pohon Nagasari which he said is a valuable tree, with very strong social and cultural associations. He spoke of the similarities between the Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya and Bogor both in their formal establishment during colonial times in the early 1800s and the wealth of plant material they presently host. Dr. Didik said the gardens continue to play a significant role in conservation, propagation and education. Therefore, future cooperation, between the two Gardens would be of particular value and expressed the hope that the presentation of Sri Lanka’s National Tree will stimulate long term mutual cooperation not only between the Gardens but also wider bilateral cooperation.
The Vice Chairperson Prof. Enny also thanked the Government of Sri Lanka for gifting the sapling as it enhances the valuable plant collection within the garden precincts. In her remarks, she outlined the role of the botanic gardens in Indonesia and the pre-eminence of the Bogor Botanic Gardens and Indonesia’s programme to have the Gardens listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is currently on the tentative list. While seeking Sri Lanka’s support for this initiative, she expressed the hope that this historic moment symbolizing the longstanding engagement between two prestigious Botanic Gardens of Asia, would create a meaningful, mutually beneficial collaboration. The Vice Chairperson proposed signature of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and accordingly to progress on exchange of staff for capacity building, knowledge transfer and plant material exchange in order to improve plant collections.
Addressing the gathering, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka outlined the significance of the Na Tree with its close association socially, culturally and historically with the people of Sri Lanka in addition to its importance as the National Tree of the country. The gifting of the plant signifies the warm and longstanding friendship between the two countries, he said, and shared the hope that this joint initiative would broaden the scope and depth of engagement with Sri Lanka including between the Botanic Gardens of Bogor and Peradeniya and the scientific community. He fully endorsed the proposals for cooperation proposed by the Vice Chairperson of LIPI. The Ambassador alluded to the ancient philosophies and traditions of environmental protection and conservation in Sri Lanka and Indonesia referring in particular to the principle that the people are only custodians of the resources found in the land and are trustees, not the owners. Ambassador Perera reiterated the importance of greater collaboration between Indonesia and Sri Lanka in the education and scientific fields as discussed between the leaders during the recent (January 2018) State visit to Sri Lanka of H.E. the President of Indonesia.
Monday’s gathering included members of the scientific community, Sri Lankans living in Indonesia, the general public, staff of the Indonesian institutions and the Embassy.