London, Nov.21 : Ecologists, academics, scientists and religious leaders from around the world will gather in London next week. Their aim will be to prevent the destruction of the Gulf of Mannar, one of the last remaining intact ecosystems on earth and home to the famous Ram Sethu or Adam's Bridge, a site sacred to one billion Hindus worldwide.
The gathering is set to provide enough multi-disciplinary evidence to persuade the governments of India and Sri Lankan to ask UNESCO to designate the Gulf a World Heritage Site.
The Gulf of Mannar is a shallow stretch of water separating India from Sri Lanka. Despite its important ecological and cultural significance as one of South Asia's largest biosphere reserves, the Indian Government is pressing ahead with plans to build a shipping channel - the Sethusamudram Ship Channel - right through it, threatening the numerous endangered plant and animal species that live there, as well as the livelihood of local fishermen.
The proposals have met with an international chorus of disapproval and the project is currently the focus of a legal battle in India's Supreme Court.
Among those making presentations at the meeting will be Martin Palmer, Secretary General, the Alliance of Religions and onservation (UK); Peter Bunyard, co-founder of The ecologist magazine, and a respected worldwide authority on climate change (UK); Susan Denyer, Secretary, International Council on Monuments and Sites UK; Christoph Schwarte, Staff Lawyer, The Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (UK); Professor Anantanand Rambachan, Professor and Chair of Religion, Saint Olaf College, Minnesota (USA); Dr. I Gusti Ngurah Arya Wedakarna Lecturer, Mahendradatta University Bali); Dr. Ranil Senanayake, a leading systems ecologist who has worked with the United Nations Environment Programme (Sir Lanka); Ritwick Dutta, Member, Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (India) and Shalina Sital, Global Human Rights Defence (The Netherlands).
The meeting has been called by The Living Planet Foundation (USA), and will be held at the Linnean Society of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1 on Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th November.
"The Linnean Society has been at the forefront of scientific exploration since 1788, often hosting events that changed the course of history - Charles Darwin's first speech on natural selection being a case in point. We hope we can make history again there next week and, once and for all, ensure this precious and sacred region of the Earth is preserved for future generations," said Organiser Kusum Vyas.