In 2013 MAS had a choice to save or build on a 10-acre patch of overgrown land inside its 165 acre Fabric Park in Thulhiriya. The plot was a golf course in its earlier life but over the years but had become overgrown with iluk and manna grass.
MAS’s management took a deep dive into the ecological impact of the park and decided to convert the 10 acres into a man-made analog forest, mindfully deciding against developing or building in that space.
For months MAS environmental teams supported by Dr Ranil Senanayake labored to design and grow an analog forestry model that today has become a 14-acre eco-system that continues to flourish as a growing forest.
Christened “Thuruwadula” which means forest canopy, the MFP forest now includes 6 zones that takes visitors through the experience of analog forestry, a wetland, a native forest, rock habitats and even thriving bird and butterfly gardens.
Image 2 – A combination of wetland, native, analog forests and rock habitats co-exist together inside Thuruwadula
From being home to butterflies and lizards in its early stages, the forest is now home to larger mammals such as porcupines, monitors, giant squirrels and monkeys and even a single peacock and deer.
2,000 new plants are added each year to the forest by its visitors and MAS’s own employees who use it as a biodiversity learning center and engagement point.
Figure 3 The first forest to be created and run by a private company is now a learning model for schools and visitors
The forest also yields a healthy organic harvest of fruits and vegetables for both park employees and the villagers nearby who find succulent treats on the forest’s many fruit trees including the 100 rambutan trees during the season.
“We have proved that an industrial zone doesn’t have to look somber and full of concrete. Anyone who walks into MFP can see and feel the difference between this and other economic zones. It was a conscious choice to grow a forest within our space and we continue to take this same approach wherever we operate. The final impact of an economic zone should be a positive one to the environment and to the community around it. It comes from a core belief to do more good than harm when you build a business and any business can adopt that approach.” Misver Dean – CEO MAS Fabric Park Thulhiriya
Thuruwadula remains an inspiration and knowledge center as MAS seeks to expand on this model as part of a bold sustainability vision which includes a promise to grow, replace and preserve habitats across 25,000 acres across Sri Lanka by 2025.