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Home > International Tamil Conferences on Tamil Eelam Freedom Struggle > > International Conference on Tamil Nationhood, Canada 1999 > Ecological Consequences of the War in the Tamil Homeland in Sri Lanka
|Proceedings of International Conference On Tamil Nationhood
& Search for Peace in Sri Lanka, Ottawa, Canada 1999 Ecological Consequences of the War
in the Tamil Homeland in Sri Lanka
Environment prior to 1983 The early years of the militancy Causal factors Some recent remedial measures Prospects for post-settlement reconstruction Conclusion
Much has been written over the last decade and a half on the effects of the war on the life and economy of the Tamil people and on the political milieu of the island as a whole. However, very little has been written about the effects of this war on the environment of the Tamil homeland.
The reasons for this, we believe, are the tendency among those who write, analyse and report on the conflict to focus on the military and social consequences of armed conflicts, the general lack of environmental consciousness amongst commentators and the public, and the absence of data on the past and present state of the environment of the Tamil homeland. Intensification of the war and large scale military operations of recent years initiated by the Sri Lankan forces have taken place under a media blockade and press censorship, so that the extent of destruction is not known to the wider community nor reported in the media. Academic researchers, environmental organisations and advocacy movements in Sri Lanka, while working and campaigning on problems and issues pertaining to the South, appear to have been either ignorant or silent on the ecological consequences of the war.
The paucity of data also means that we will not be able to present quantitative information; we will, however, attempt to paint a qualitative picture of the consequences of the war on the environment. What is presented today should be seen in the light of our collective experiences of the war and our experiences garnered while being associated with the University of Jaffna in different academic engagements.
As Tamils who have a deep interest in the welfare of not only our people but also of their environment, we feel encouraged by recent moves in international law to approach the rights of human beings in a more holistic way. This trend recognises the interdependent and indivisible links that exist between the two groups of rights, the human rights to life, liberty and health and the rights to a clean, healthy and safe environment.
Three years ago, a group of experts in human rights and in international law came together under the aegis of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment to draft the Principles on Human Rights and the Environment. The core messages of these Principles are (a) that the right to a secure, healthy and ecologically sound environment is indivisible from other fundamental rights and (b) that the protection of environmental rights will strengthen other human rights. However, these Principles have not yet been adopted as part of the international legal framework (see Simpson & Jackson 1997). The core messages we think should serve as a backdrop to the issues that we address today.
As the war in the Tamil areas of the island escalated through the mid 1980's, the state of balance that existed in the environmental systems throughout the Tamil homeland began to be disrupted. The deterioration continued through the 1990's as the causal factors aggravated and the adverse impacts led to what we consider as an environmental crisis in the Tamil homeland today. Our task here is not to apportion blame rather to highlight the crisis and to propose some suggestions towards stemming the degradation to the environment in Eelam.
We will first deal very briefly with the state of the environment prior to the watershed year of 1983.
The Jaffna Peninsula prior to 1983 had a population of more than 800,000 persons. The Valikaamam division, which includes Jaffna city, was the most populous Tamil division in the island with more than 700 persons per square km. The peninsula, which had been populated for more than 2 millennia, had very little natural vegetation left. The dry peninsula had been modified over the centuries to make it the most intensively cultivated part of the whole island of Sri Lanka. However, the areas of natural vegetation that remained together with the cultivated areas formed a close-knit ecosystem in some sort of a balance.
The most distinctive feature of the Peninsula, and many other parts of Eelam, is the Palmyrah palm (Borassus flabellifer), which grew in extensive groves all over the peninsula, totally dominating its landscape. In the early 80's there were an estimated 5 million palms in the peninsula.
The Peninsula had its own specific environmental problems in the early 80s. By the late 70s, the delicate balance of the ecosystem in the peninsula was already under threat from the increasing demands of a growing population. Despite the absence of large tracts of natural vegetation, a variety of small wild animals (including snakes, monkeys, palm cats, mongooses) and native and migratory birds formed part of the environment of the peninsula. Migratory birds from the Northern parts of Asia visited the peninsula regularly. The major environmental problems in the peninsula at this point were the clearing of native scrub, mangroves and dune vegetation, increasing soil and water salinity and biological and chemical pollution of the underground freshwater system. The larger of the only two major industrial plants in the North created a localised environmental problem of some proportion by carpeting areas around it with cement dust. The second, a chemicals factory at Paranthan, caused very limited pollution of aerial, terrestrial and coastal pollution due to its location and relatively small size.
Vanni and the East
The areas of Eelam outside of the peninsula carried smaller population densities and larger extents of natural vegetation. Nearly half of the dry-zone forests of the island of Sri Lanka lies in the Tamil dominated Vanni and the East, overlapping the ethnic borders. The Vanni, with most of its land area covered by forest, had the least environmental problems. These dry monsoon forests supported a diverse range of plants, birds and animals. The problems emerging in the Vanni and the forested areas of the East were deforestation resulting from the expansion of the small population centres, poaching of wildlife, unsustainable (both legal and illegal) logging for timber and fuelwood. Deforestation, however, was not extensive.
The major environmental problems in the East were similar to those seen in the North; however, the intensity of causal factors and effects differed. The populated area on the East is a narrow coastal strip, with a concentration of almost the entire Tamil and Muslim population close to the coast and the (recently colonised) Sinhala colonies in the western edge of the province. Large areas of the dry-zone forests in the East (Trincomalee, Amparai and Batticaloa districts) were already under threat of environmental destruction and deforestation, arising from the State-aided colonisation programmes. Sinhala colonists were settled as farmers according to the State�s policy of gradually altering the ethnic composition of the East. Most water and soil related pollution was localised as was the effects of the Vaalaichenai Paper Mill. The extensive lagoon system of the eastern coastline was also under threat from pressures of urbanisation, deforestation of mangroves and unsustainable fishing practices.
As in the peninsula, the eco-systems of the Vanni and the East were under threat but functioned in a delicate balance.
In the seas along the coast, the major environmental issues were unsustainable fishing practices, including drift net fishing and the use of nets with smaller than allowable mesh sizes, use of dynamite for fishing, coral harvesting for lime production and localised sand mining on the beaches.
The incipient Tamil resistance movement started functioning from the mid 70s. The movement, clandestine at that stage, consisted of a number of groups, each with a small membership. They started establishing camps, mostly in the forests and scrub jungles for training and absconding. Following the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1977, individuals and NGOs started a number of refugee resettlement schemes in the forested areas of Vanni. These were established in leasehold land and on alienated crown land. There were also voluntary encroachments for establishing settlements in the forests of Vanni.
The cadre of the early militant groups were mostly from the urban area, especially from the peninsula. They came to the forests without the familiarity, understanding and knowledge of the natural environment. A consequence of their presence in the forests was the incursion of domesticated species of plants, particularly food plants. In many cases, they held an (urban) utilitarian view of the forest. In the early days there were some militant groups that engaged in or aided and abetted in illegal logging and marketing of the timber as a source of revenue.
However, by the mid eighties, with the power balance between the now expanding armed guerrilla movement and the Sri Lankan armed forces changing, the attitude of the militants to the environment in general, and the forests in particular, began to change. The ever increasing use of the forests as their bases and the need to enhance their security created an heightened awareness of the need to preserve the forests for both their security and ecological values.
The presence of the armed militants in the forests created significant environmental consequences. On the one hand the forest became the home of the militants; it provided them with food, shelter and training ground. On the other the forest became a hunting ground for the Sri Lankan armed forces; they increasingly mounted military-style operations within the forests in search of the militants. Both caused severe disruptions to the delicate balance that existed in the dry-zone forests and other areas of natural vegetation of the Vanni and the East.
Apart from the use of forests by the militants, there was also an increase in the illegal logging in the peripheries of the forests of the North and East. The virtual non-existence of forest wardens, the collaboration of some elements of the Sri Lankan armed forces with illegal loggers and the general lack of imposition of the law contributed to this increase. The number of colonies of Sinhala settlers that were established in the forests in the Tamil homeland also increased, especially in the Manal Aaru (Welioya) area, causing further deterioration of forests.
The environmental crisis that we see in the Tamil homeland today mainly stems from the increased military activities and the war that has been ongoing for the last decade and a half. The next section of this paper considers the major factors causing this environmental crisis and their direct and indirect effects.
The effects of the environmental crisis are most felt in the forested areas of the Tamil homeland. In addition, there has been extensive disruption to the environment and to the fragile ecological balance prevailing in the non-forested and urban areas.
The major factors causing destruction of the environment in the post-1983 period are the use of heavy explosives, military manoeuvres and associated activities, and the displacement of people. Let us examine these more closely.
The use of explosives
Since 1986 the use of artillery and aerial bombs and the random firing of naval cannons on population centres by the Sri Lankan armed forces, have become routine acts of war in the Tamil homeland. Such attacks occurred more in the Jaffna Peninsula than in the other Tamil areas, until 1996. These attacks have resulted in the destruction of the physical infrastructure and the lives of Tamils.
The major effect of the explosions is the destruction of buildings, natural vegetation, trees and parks in urban areas, crops and agricultural land, domestic and wild animals and birds. The noise and the shock waves that accompany the explosions also cause death, injury and terror among humans and animals.
During the Indian Army/LTTE confrontation of the 1987-89 period, carpet bombing and systematic shelling of suspected guerrilla camps and bases in the middle of the forests were used for the first time. This caused localised but extensive damage to the bio diversity and the physical environment. This type of blind and disruptive warfare of fighting mainly with aircraft and artillery (including naval cannons and mortars) with minimum deployment of ground forces, has been continued by the Sri Lankan armed forces into the Eelam War II and Eelam War III, causing damage which is not being documented or witnessed by the outside world.
There have also been a number of reports of incendiary devices being used to burn forests. These acts have resulted in the death of forest plants and animals, the dispersal of animal and bird populations, and disruption of the ecological balance of the forests. The detrimental effects of these on the water cycle have been manifested in the drought that the Vanni areas experienced this year.
The impact of the explosives has created a land of debris and craters. As was seen in Vietnam, disruption of the soil profile has reduced the productivity of agricultural land through loss of topsoil and compaction of soil. The displacement of people meant that both agricultural lands and urban areas have been left unattended, leading to increase in the woody weed population in both areas. The uncontrolled growth of weedy vegetation combined with the presence of craters has also led to the increase in population of mosquito and other disease-carrying insects in Tamil areas and the re-emergence of insect-borne diseases including malaria.
We have information from both the Vanni and Jaffna that a previously unknown fever is spreading in both areas at present; this is suspected to be a viral infection and possibly carried by insects. A number of people have died due to this fever in the Vanni. The incidence of respiratory and dermatological illnesses has also gone up in the Tamil areas, possibly due to the higher levels of dust, and chemical pollution from explosives. The higher incidence of heart disease and cancer among the population of the North and East are attributable indirectly to the war. The loss of social and physical infrastructure has also led to a rise in conditions like septicaemia, diarrhoea and malaria as well as a range of trauma-related psychiatric illnesses.
The lack of inadequate toilet facilities in most refugee camps and centres and the improper disposal of animal carcasses have also been a source of biological pollution of the water resources and breeding of disease-carrying flies in both the Peninsula and other areas.
Another effect of bombardment has been the destruction of wells in the peninsula. Given the number of wells in the peninsula (virtually every house has one well) and the nature of the underground water system (a network of caverns in a porous limestone bedrock), the potential for pollutants to be spread over a large area is very high. Chemical residues from bombs and shells and biological pollutants from faecal material and carcasses have been the major pollutants. There have also been instances where the bodies of people who are disappeared by the Sri Lankan armed forces have been dumped in wells.
In the seas, naval battles and the use of depth charges by the Sri Lankan Navy to dissuade underwater attacks, have resulted in the death of marine life, disruption of the sea bed and localised pollution by chemicals and fuel oil.
Since 1986, a large number of military manoeuvres and operations have been carried out all over the Tamil homeland. These military operations have mostly involved the movement of troops backed by heavy vehicles (APCs and tanks) and accompanied by artillery and aerial bombardment.
In a number of cases, especially in the more recent mass operations, troops have avoided using existing roads and paths. Tanks and bulldozers have been used to create new paths through built area, agricultural land and natural vegetation.
Since 1988 many major battles between the Tamil guerrilla forces, and the Indian and Sir Lankan armed forces have taken place in the forests of Vanni and East, causing extensive damage to the physical structure and bio diversity of the forests.
As part of such manoeuvres, existing vegetation along the main roads and around military establishments has been cleared. In some cases, as along the A9 road which cuts through the forests of Vanni, such clearing has been done up to 2 km on either side of the road. Taraki, a well respected newspaper columnist, reports that such clearing of natural vegetation is most evident along the stretch of road from Mannampitti to Vaalaichenai in the Batticaloa district. Large scale clearing of forest, mangroves and marsh vegetation in the Vanni and the East occurred in the Eelam War II period between October 1987 and March 1990. Much of the cleared forest in the Vanni has regrown but most areas cleared in the east still remain wastelands covered by scrub and weeds. A similar pattern of vegetation clearing has occurred recently along the Vavuniya-Mannar road and along the Vavuniya-Puliyankulam road. Clearing is also carried out around military camps and bases, in order to deny the surprise element.
Along the Vavuniya-Mannar road, not only has vegetation been cleared on either side of the road, but a chain of bunkers, reportedly at 500 metre intervals, have been constructed throughout the length of the road. Real and decoy bunkers are also constructed along the perimeter of military camps and bases. These bunkers are constructed using tree trunks and sandbags with soil being dug to varying depths. It has been estimated that a single bunker of the kind seen along the Vavuniya-Mannar Road requires the trunks of three large trees.
This same pattern of a bunker-camp chain accompanied by a 6-metre high soil and brush bund and double fence is now reportedly being constructed along the Vavuniya-Mankulam road and the interior areas of forests captured by the Sri Lankan forces around Mankualm and along parts of the Mankulam-Mullaithivu road. Palmyrah palms, valuable forest trees and teak and eucalyptus in planted forests in the East have been cut down for this purpose. Smaller trees and branches are used in the construction of fences and other fortifications. During the latter part of 1998, it was reported in the English press in Colombo that the military has been ordered to extend the clearing of the forests on either side of the A9 road, such that it could also be used for operating and landing helicopters. It is speculated that this would mean extension of the cleared strip on either side of the road.
In the Jaffna Peninsula, as the random artillery and aerial bombardment of civilian areas escalated in the late 1980s, ordinary civilians were compelled to construct small bunkers in their backyards. These bunkers typically used one palm trunk. In the past two years large scale cutting down of Palmyrah and coconut palms for the construction of military bunkers have also been reported. It is estimated that in the last decade between 2 and 3 million Palmyrah palms have been cut down in the peninsula, almost halving the population of these palms.
There has also been large scale clearing of mangroves in many areas of the north and the east to deny shelter and protection for the Tamil resistance forces. The clearing of mangroves vegetation, for both firewood and for security reasons, also have an indirect effect on the population sizes of many fish species, prawns and migratory birds; these use the mangroves as breeding grounds. The Indian forces during their occupation of the East and more recently the Special Task Force Commandos of the Sri Lanka Police has been involved in the destruction of mangrove vegetation along the lagoons of the East, purportedly for security reasons. A news item earlier this month reports of people being forced by the army to clear mangroves on the road from East Vadamaraachi and Ezhutumattuvaal at the tail-end of the Thondaimanaaru lagoon, a popular field study location for the University of Jaffna in the late seventies and early eighties.
The Sri Lankan Armed forces have been largely confined to camps and bases along the coast during the period of Eelam Wars II and III. This, together with access for bombardment by naval cannons, the increasing use of coastal areas by the Sea Tiger forces and the reluctance on the part of the Sri Lankan armed forces to commit troops to make landings, has led to extensive destabilisation of beaches and coastal ecosystems all over Tamil Eelam.
Another major issue is the existence of mines and unexploded ammunition. There lie in the soil of Tamil Eelam tens of thousands of landmines and unexploded pieces of ammunition waiting to claim the lives and the limbs of humans and animals.
Displacement of the people and the economic embargo
The most tangible effect of the war is the massive displacement of Tamil people that has occurred over the last decade. Each military operation has been preceded and accompanied by concentrated bombardment of civilian areas, resulting in people fleeing their homes in panic. From the mid 1980s such displacements have occurred on a smaller scale. The largest of such displacements occurred in late 1995. Nearly half a million people moved out of the Valikaamam division overnight, fleeing the advancing Sri Lankan armed forces (engaged in Operation Rivirasa). Of the nearly 250 000 people who crossed the Jaffna Lagoon in small boats to the Vanni, a large proportion still remain in the Vanni as refugees. Since then large numbers of refugees, internally displaced in the Vanni, have joined them. It is estimated that there are over 500 000 internally displaced people all over Tamil Eelam at present. The large number of people with inadequate shelter and infrastructure to sustain them has led to enormous pressure being put on the fragile environment of the Vanni. This situation has been compounded by an economic embargo which has been in place over areas that are not under the control of the Sri Lankan armed forces, since 1990. The end result is that almost all essential items, including food, fuel, medicines and building materials, are in very short supply in these areas.
The timing of major operations by the Sri Lankan army has followed an uncanny pattern in the manner it has led to destruction of food production in the Tamil homeland, particularly the Vanni. Offensives are frequently undertaken just prior to harvest of the main rice crop or immediately after sowing time. This has deprived people of the essential food crop and caused extensive damage to agricultural land and water supply, making the people ever more dependent on government handouts.
The most devastating effect of displacement on the environment has been caused by the lack of fuel and building materials. The need for firewood and the construction of temporary shelter for the vast refugee population has been an additional factor resulting in deforestation. New roads and townships have emerged in the forests of Vanni. Other parts of the Eastern province too have economic embargoes imposed on them at present. The effects in these areas have again been deforestation and clearing of mangroves mainly for use as firewood.
As stated earlier, from the mid 1980s, the environmental consciousness of the armed resistance movements, especially the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has been high. This has led to the movement taking several steps that have helped in arresting the deterioration of the environment. From early 1990 to late 1995, the entire Northern Province and a substantial part of the Eastern Province remained under the control of the guerrillas of the LTTE. The LTTE ran a de-facto government in the areas under their control. Overseas visitors and journalists who visited the North have commented on the growth of a simple resistance group into an effective organisation run by cautious planners and administrators. The same five year period also saw an increase in the bombardment of the peninsula and the imposition of an economic embargo on areas under the control of the LTTE. As in the Vanni today, the need for fuelwood and construction material was enormous, leading to unsustainable harvesting of wood from forests and mangroves.
During these five years, a number of remedial measures were implemented in the North. These include measures to increase the green consciousness of the population by mass education, tree planting campaigns in urban areas, strict control on felling of large trees, especially the Palmyrah palm, complete ban on felling trees in some areas, re-seeding of Palmyrah groves, control over the clearing of mangroves, a ban on deforestation, establishment of fuelwood plantations and reforestation. These measures, though inadequate to stem the deterioration of the health of the environment, were aimed at addressing and mitigating some of the detrimental effects of a previous era.
The LTTE also conducted an impressive series of workshops and community consultation sessions during this period to produce infrastructure development plans for implementation in the post-settlement phase. A perusal of these plans shows the level of care for the environment incorporated into the planning process.
As far as we know, there is only one indigenous environmental NGO that functions in the Tamil homeland, working on environmental protection.
Some of the effects of the current war on the environment are irreversible or will require extended periods of time to rectify. Others are short-term effects that could be redressed rather easily. Even though the immediate need during reconstruction will be the provision of adequate housing and restoration of infrastructure in the Tamil areas, the inclusion of the environment in planning is essential to restore the long-term survival and well-being of the people and the land. Any reconstruction, rehabilitation and development activities must be closely interrelated with the rehabilitation of the environment.
The farming systems in practice in the Tamil homeland and the diversity of crops grown there, like in any other agro-ecosystem, were developed and shaped by a mix of biological, social, economic and political factors over hundreds of years. The impact of war on agriculture and the resulting loss of crop and varietal diversity has been immense, directly through physical damage to land and indirectly through massive dislocation of people, loss of knowledge and skills, and shortage of seeds and other inputs brought on by embargoes. Experiences of war in countries like Nicaragua, and Cambodia indicate that attention needs to be paid to the effects of war on the farming systems in Tamil Eelam, even while the war is underway, in order to determine the shape of post-war agriculture and the type of support and interventions necessary in the aftermath of war (Sperling 1997).
The effects of the damage caused by coral mining, the disturbance caused to the local ecological systems and the residual chemicals in water and soil will remain unrectified for a long time.
Effects of deforestation and clearing of natural vegetation can be redressed by reafforestation programs, even though the recovery of such vegetation would take long periods of time. Afforestation programs, in addition to bringing benefits to the environment, will also boost employment locally. Some of the deforested areas could be converted into firewood and timber plantations.
A major shorter-term issue will be the tons and tons of rubble that lie in all the populated areas of the Tamil homeland. Means of recycling this rubble during the reconstruction phase have to be explored. Rubble from demolished buildings are being used in a number of countries, including Australia, as base material for road building, and for construction of paving material. The use of rubble to construct temporary shelters for returnees and refugees, and to repair roads are two recycling options.
The reconstruction in the post-settlement phase will be a massive undertaking. This will need not only large sums of money but also expertise in a range of disciplines. The rebuilding of the economy could potentially be carried out with not only assistance from overseas governments but also from investment in projects and businesses by overseas Tamils. The expertise that exists among Tamils living overseas should be utilised in order to complement what is available locally in Tamil Eelam.
Reconstruction and development efforts should not be haphazard but planned carefully. The planning of all development should be holistic, with a strong environmental content. An environmental policy for Tamil Eelam is an urgent need. This should be based on the principles of sustainable development and should include world's best practice in the management of forests and other natural vegetation, and the sustainable use of natural resources.
Environmental degradation has been seen as contributing to scarcity of resources and eventual armed conflict, in a cause-effect relationship, in the literature on armed conflict and the environment (Homer-Dixon 1994). Robert Kaplan (1997) has predicted a �coming anarchy�, with environmental degradation and increased competition for resources as the root cause of political conflicts in the third world. These theories assume degradation to be a simple, linear process and they ignore the more important political, economic and cultural factors which influence the nature of conflict. The case we have presented here, along with its long history, is clearly one of war causing environmental destruction. This destruction, in turn, is going to exacerbate resource scarcity and the armed conflict for both nations, a case of reverse causality compared to the war-environment relationship in the literature (Gleditsch 1998).
The Tamils of Eelam found themselves in a situation of having to fight for their territory, not simply for its material value or the resources it contains; their affiliation to the land is an important part of their identity as a people. The land that is at the root of the war is also being destroyed by the war. The Sri Lankan State is relentlessly pushing to destroy the territorial base of the Tamils, with the pretext of removing the cover that protects the forces of the LTTE, but in reality to destroy the natural wealth of Tamil Eelam, to make reconstruction harder, to destroy the spirit of the Tamil homeland. The cost of such imperialist behaviour, against the will of a people determined to resist, is immense; the Sinhala Nation should learn from the lessons of so many other wars of our times.
The damage that the war is causing today to the environment and to the lives of the Tamil people emphasises the indivisible links between the environment and fundamental rights that were seen by the draftees of the Principles on Human Rights and Environment. This, we believe, will pave the way to not only the fulfilment of the aspirations of our people but also to the reduction in, and in some instances the elimination of, the pressures that have led to the present environmental crisis. The resolution of the conflict would therefore lead to a healthier, safer and more sustainable environment in which the aspirations of the two peoples living on the island could be attained in peace.
We conclude with the words of Bill Weinberg, who said in his analysis of war and ecological destruction in Central America, that �militarization itself has become a form of ecological destruction. It is, therefore, logical that plans to bring peace to the region include plans for ecological restoration� (1991:143). This is no less true in Tamil Eelam than in any other arena of war.
Gleditsch, Nils Petter (1998) Armed conflict and the Environment: A Critique of the Literature. Journal of Peace Research 35 (3): 381-400
Homer-Dixon, Thomas F. (1994) Environmental scarcities and violent conflict: evidence from cases. International Security 19: 5-40
Kaplan, Robert D. (1997) The Ends of the Earth: A Journey at the Dawn of the 21st Century. Papermac, London.
Simpson, Tony & Jackson, Vanessa (1997) Human Rights and the Environment. Environmental and Planning Law Journal 14 (4): 268-281
Sperling, Louise (Ed.) (1997) War and Crop Diversity. AgREN - Agricultural Research and Extension Network, UK. Network Paper No. 75
Weinberg, Bill (1991) War on the Land: Ecology and Politics in Central America. Zed Books, London.
Dr Tharman Saverimuttu is a biological sciences graduate of the University of Jaffna and he has a PhD in Plant Ecology from the University of Cambridge. He was a Lecturer in Botany at the University of Jaffna until 1990.
Dr Nadarajah Sriskandarajah is a graduate of the Universities of Ceylon and Sydney in the animal sciences. He is currently with the University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury. He was a Visiting Lecturer at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jaffna, Kilinochi in 1994.
Mr V I S Jayapalan is a social sciences graduate of the University of Jaffna. In 1991 he carried out a study of the environmental consequences of the conflicts in Sri Lanka. He is a well known poet, author and traveller and has a keen interest in environmental issues. He lives in Norway.