Biodiversity, Cultural and National Heritage Protection (BCNP) Branch

Activities Of BCNP

• Destruction of Blood Ivory forfeited by Sri Lanka Customs at Galle Face Green
Sri Lanka Customs publicly destroyed (crushed) 359 tusks of ivory weighing about 1.5 tonnes at the Galle Face Green on 26thJanuary 2016, at an event attended by Wildlife Conservation Minister Mr.GaminiJayawickramaPerera and Mr.John Scanlon, Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).The ivory was crushed first, and was incinerated at Holcim Factory in Puttalam on 27th January 2016, in the presence of Customs Officials. These tusks were confiscated by Sri Lankan Customs officials on May 2012 while it was in transit to Dubai from the Kenyan port of Mombasa, falsely labelled as storing plastic waste.
Sri Lanka is the first South Asian nation to publicly destroy ivory obtained through elephant poaching. This showed the world, Sri Lanka’s commitment to curb the illegal international trade of wild fauna and flora, and zero tolerance policy on blood ivory; sending the right message to illegal fauna and flora racketeers.

• E-waste Management week at Customs Head Office
As a part of continuous environment protection and conservation programs conducted earlier, an e-waste collecting program was organized at the headquarters premises by BCNP branch, during the period of 21.11.2016 to 20.12.2016. During that period, collecting bins were placed near the lifts at the ground floor and basement floor and the customs officers were made aware via notices, brochures and public announcements. Collected e-waste was sent for Recycling.

• Disposing of forfeited bird nests and other biodiversity articles at Madampitiya Cemetery
Sri Lanka Customs publicly disposed forfeited bird nests, peacock feathers and other biodiversity related goods by burning and destroying at Madampitiya Cemetery premises, Colombo 15, in the presence of Director General of Customs and other Customs officials on 18.10.2016. The purpose of this event was to draw attention of general public and to point out that the wanton destruction of our natural resources is an unpardonable offence.
In addition to that Sri Lanka Customs disposed some other forfeited goods (sea shells, swords, guns etc.) in the presence of Customs officials on 17.11.2016.

• Donation of forfeited sea shells, corals, preserved butterfly frames and other biodiversity articles by Sri Lanka Customs to Universities
Sri Lanka Customs handed over forfeited sea shells, corals, preserved butterfly frames and other biodiversity articleshaving educational value, to the University of Colombo and UwaWellasa University for their research and academic purpose, on 18th January 2017 at the Director General Customs’ office, Sri Lanka Customs Headquarters, Colombo 11.

• Donation of forfeited Sandalwood to Sri Lanka Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation for manufacturing medicine
Sri Lanka Customs handed over forfeited sandalwood timber logs weighing nearly half a metric ton valued at two million Rupees, to Sri Lanka Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation for manufacturing drugs. This event took place on 31.05.2016 at their premises Nawinna, Maharagama in the presence of DGC, Customs Officials, Chairman of Sri Lanka Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation and staff of Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation .The donation was done parallel to the World Environment Day scheduled for 05th June 2016.

• Participation at Jewels 2016 exhibition
Biodiversity, Cultural and National Heritage Protection Branch of Sri LankaCustoms attended “Jewels 2016” Gem and Jewellery exhibition from 16.12.2017 – 18.12.2016 at BMICH Committee lounge. There, Sri Lanka Customs held a stall exhibiting samples of forfeited bio diversity related articles in order to aware general public and travellers that the Smuggling of these natural resources out of the country is an unpardonable offence and to prevent the commission of such environment crimes before it is occurred.

Biodiversity, Cultural and National Heritage Protection Branch of Sri Lanka Customs commemorated its 20th anniversary on 17th July 2013. It is worth noting the service rendered and the milestones reached by this unique cell over past 20 years because it is recognized as the world’s first specialized cell formed within a Customs administration in order to safeguard environmental and cultural heritage of a country and by large the world.

Sri Lanka Customs being the forefront law enforcement agency regulating the trans-boundary movement of travelers and merchandises took initiative to establish a specialized unit called the Biodiversity Protection Unit (BPU) in year 1993. BPU is currently recognized as the Biodiversity, Cultural and National Heritage Protection Branch (BCNP) and is functioning under the Social Protection Directorate in the Enforcement Cluster of Sri Lanka Customs. The division functions towards achieving the broad objective of social and environmental protection by enforcement of law in order to protect biodiversity, cultural and national heritage and assure due revenue while facilitating the legitimate trade.

BCNP and its officers commitment towards environment protection was recognized in many occasions including Environment Success Story award. The main initiator of the BPU Mr. R.S. Gunasekara who is presently the head of the BCNP received President’s Environmental Award - 2004 for the outstanding contribution in the environmental sector.

BCNP in parallel with its 20th anniversary celebration had organized a forum of gap analysis of the existing legislation comprising all line institutions including Customs, Forest, Wildlife, Quarantine, Fisheries and Archaeology etc. to discuss the practical issues arising at the time of import and export of biodiversity and archaeologically important articles. The Practical forum was well attended and important decisions were made to streamline the existing legal gaps to effectively combat trans-boundary wildlife and archaeological crimes.

Apart from it, the Biodiversity Protection Task Force was re-launched at this occasion with the aim of maintaining a pool of interested Custom Officers also as a remedy for the shortage of skilled and interested Officers on the subject matter in biodiversity protection aspect for the participation of future initiatives of the branch. In addition, BCNP is committed in conducting officer training, research, publication and public awareness to prevent environmental crimes and facilitate and guide legitimate traders. Furthermore, a huge repository of artefacts comprised of wildlife products and archaeologically important articles seized over past 20 years is maintained by the BCNP branch and some of those archaeological specimens are unique and not even available in the National Museum of Srilanka. The unique collection of confiscated items will be put in public display in the Customs Museum which is scheduled to be open shortly.

The 3 day practical training program jointly organized by the Human Resource Development Directorate and BCNP Division was successfully held on 5th, 6th & 7th October at Sinharaja forest. Eminent experts in different fields took part in this program as resource personnels on the invitation of Mr. Samantha Gunasekara DDC (Biodiversity, Cultural and National Heritage Protection Division) The three day event included nature trails for flora & fauna identification in natural habitats, plant identification, bird watching, reptile handling etc., which was attended by the officers of the department from all levels.

With the aim of broadening the interest in Fauna and Flora among the Customs Officers, Biodiversity Protection Unit designed and launched a Cap under the WCO's theme of the year 2009, "Customs and the Environmnet; Protecting our Natural Heritage". Here we see some highlights of the Launching ceremony where the Director General of Sri Lanka Customs received the first cap from the Head of Biodiversity Protection Unit. Many Directors, Deputy Directors, Assistant Directors, Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents had witnessed the occation.

Will be updated soon.....

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