India and Sri Lanka - living in harmony with nature.

Both India and Sri Lanka have cultures of living in harmony with nature. In addition to providing an excellent experience for our guests, living and being closer with nature is one of our main aims at GlenMyu Estate.

A statement at the UN Biodiversity Summit in 2020.

In an article from the Hindustan Times (Oct 1st 2020) it was reported that Prakesh Javadekar, when delivering a speech at the Biodiversity Summit at the UN, stated that “India has a culture of harmony living with nature”.

He states that “Since time immemorial, India has a culture of not just conserving and protecting nature, but living in harmony with it”.

He added “As enshrined in our Vedic scripts ‘Prakriti Rakshati Rakshita’ that is if you protect nature, nature will protect you” .

Tree cover had been significantly increased and animals had been protected.

Mr Javedekar held the post of Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change at that date.

Restoring degraded and deforested land.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that  India aims to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land and achieve land-degradation neutrality by 2030.

If these targets can be achieved they must be applauded. 

We, in Sri Lanka are doing our bit as well.

On a smaller scale there are people and organisations in Sri Lanka working towards restoring environments for nature to thrive and for lands to be restored. Of course not everyone sings on the same hymn sheet and there are huge challenges to make a significant difference.

There is always going to be a battle between conservation and development. We know what side we favour.

Hopefully, a combination of individual effort, awareness and education will encourage others to follow suit.  

The concern about Global Warming and the extreme weather and catastrophes we have seen around the planet in recent years means a change in focus is both critical and urgent.

Restoration of the land at an abandoned tea estate.

GlenMyu Estate was formerly part of the much larger Viharagalla Estate. When Ru purchased the land it had been a tea estate and then a sugar cane estate. We understand that the product  of sugar cane became unviable and it was abandoned. 

There was apparently lots of prospective buyers that looked at the land over the years but did not think it was worth purchasing.

Ru made a brave decision to purchase the 5 acres which was mainly inhabited by Guinea Grass which is used as quick growing cow fodder. There were various trees spread around the land but the Guinness grass  was the main resident.

Initially Ru wanted to build a holiday home for herself and the family to use. It was only whilst cleaning selected areas that the land started to reveal what it could become. There were lots of ideas and decisions made and changed before the site for the holiday home would be placed. 

What to do with the five acres?

We were fortunate to meet our neighbours, some of wheat been developing their own properties with a view to living with nature. One neighbour has developed a diverse forest over the last thirty years and that were able to give us advice about what to plant and what works in this area. They also provided us with saplings and alerted us to SALT (Sloping Agriculture Land Technology) to secure the slopes and retain our valuable topsoil.

Another neighbour developed an Analog Forest over thirty plus years at Belipola which is around thirty kilometres from GlenMyu Estate. They have developed training programs so that others can follow their example.

Dr Ranil Senanayake gave us great advice on what to plant to encourage the return of wildlife to the land. He was also able to identify what creatures were already residing at the property. 

A change of plans.

As the house developed into a larger property than we planned and we also particularly liked the climate here, our plan for GlenMyu Estate changed. 

We decided in order to live with nature we would not overdevelop the land and provide a habitat for animal life whilst operating a hotel which could fund the development and maintenance of the estate. The land would become a place where guests could come and reconnect with nature. We realised that having lived in a city for many years that we were detached from nature. The development of GlenMyu Estate would allow us and our guests to reconnect. 

Providing food and and a safe habitat for animals became part of the plan. The creation of a food forest on the land, the produce of which would be used to feed ourselves, our guests and the animals. 

You will see when you visit GlenMyu Estate that we have planted Jackfruit trees, Mango Trees, Avocado Trees and many other food trees and plants. They are at a distance from the house where we will not be able to harvest the crop and therefore they will be food for the birds, animals and insects that are part of the local biodiversity settles on the land.

It's important that we do not use chemicals.

We do not use any chemicals or pesticides on the land at GlenMyu Estate. Although we do not have certification (as we feel there is no need) you can see from some of the insects that visit the land that we are not using chemicals. We have various, beautiful, dragon flies and in the evenings you will most likely see fireflies lighting up the night sky.

Dragonflies are a good indicator of a clean environment according to a Earthbuddies in their article “Dragonfly, The Environmentally Important Fairy-Like Insect“.

Springer state that “A major cause of the decline (in the number of Dragonflies) has been suggested to be the use of systemic insecticides” in their article “Chlorantraniliprole application differentially affects adult emergence of Sympetrum dragonflies in rice paddy fields”

How did it turn out?

Have we managed to live with nature?

We have found the the development of the five acres at GlenMyu Estate will always be work in progress rather than something that it completed.

Working with nature means that you will not always plant the right tree in the perfect place for it. A porcupine may visit the land during the night and dig up and destroy some of your work. The unpredictable weather patterns have meant that we were unable to plant saplings when we had planned to.  We have realised that you should work with the environment rather than push it. This means that we have to be patient. 

Since starting the hotel we have had to take some staff away from working on the land so that they can service our guests. 

In summary, we have made a lot of progress and are happy with where we are in our plan, but there is always more to do.

Getting the balance right.

It is a challenge getting the balance right between living with nature and generating income from the hotel. Historically the period between mid December and Mid April has been the peak tourist season in Sri Lanka. During these months our main focus is to provide the best experience for our guests. It is a drier part of the year and therefore not the time to plant around the estate. 

As the number of tourists visiting the island reduce and there is more rain we change our main focus towards planting and developing our food forest.

Sri Lanka Tourism has an ambitious target to increase the tourist numbers to seven million by 2030. This is a huge increase from the target of 1.55 million for 2023.

We have seen an increase in tourist numbers outside the normal tourist season.

Sri Lanka is actually an all year round destination as visiting the East Coast and Jaffna is from April to December when the South West Monsoon hits the country.

The beaches on the east side of the country are beautiful and have a different feeling than those on the south and west coasts. 

Living with Nature - good for the mind body and soul.

Our guests really enjoy their stay at GlenMyu Estate and especially when Ru takes them around the garden. Reconnecting with nature and getting to know where a large part of the food that they will eat whilst they are here is a joy. Knowing that you are going to eat organic healthy food that has been picked from the garden provides a sense of wellbeing. 

We can see that when our guests get closer to nature it really is good for their mind body and soul.

I was reading about the idea behind the Scandinavian word “friluftsliv” and the love of the outdoors and feel that we have inadvertently created this environment for our visitors. 

If you want to read about what our guests say about their stay at GlenMyu Estate please read our reviews on, Airbnb, TripAdvisor and Google.

A little bit of luxury and getting closer to nature.

We have provided comfortable bedrooms and lounges with spectacular views of the Sri Lankan countryside at GlenMyu Estate. Space to roam and a Natural Spring Fed Swimming Pool to get some exercise surrounded by a sea of green allows you to immerse in nature. 

Lots of our guests explore the fabulous sights within an hours drive from the estate. However, many change their plans and stay the whole day at the estate rather than battle with the other tourists to see Nine Arch Bridge.

We love it when guests stay at the estate as it is a reflection of what we have created.

GlenMyu Estate is still a work in progress – and nature will mean that it always will be. We hope that guests that stay with us now will return again and again to see the trees and plants grow and change the landscape. Several of our guests have planted Lemon Trees, Avocado Trees and other species. This allows our guests to be part of the development of the estate.

A stay at GlenMyu Estate and connecting with nature.

You can find our more about GlenMyu Estate at our website and contact us by WhatsApp to inquire about direct booking rates. 

We have social media channels where you can remotely see what we are doing at the estate.

GlenMyu Estate
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