21.01.2014 in Expolanka, Green, Latest by admin 0

Expolanka joins Hiniduma Project to protect country’s rainforests

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another” – Mahatma Gandhi

Tropical rainforests are the most diverse ecosystems on earth. A four-square km patch of rainforest can contain as many as 3085 different species of animals, plants and insects. Nevertheless, rainforests around the world are being cut down at an alarming rate.  Because of tropical deforestation, at least one animal species is disappearing every day. This rate of extinction is now 400 times faster than at any other period in the history of the planet.

Sri Lanka is recognized as one of the finest biodiversity spots in the world. However, due to continuous deforestation, disintegration for agricultural purposes and illegal logging of timber, only 4% of the country’s rainforest cover is said to be remaining. These remaining forests exist as highly fragmented patches. Most of them are less than 10 km2 in extent. Poaching and the extraction of forest products (timber, firewood and medicinal plants) are a problem everywhere.

Within the time span of 1990-2005, Sri Lanka showed one of the highest deforestation rates of primary forests in the world. A survey carried out in 2005 found that 17 of Sri Lanka’s frogs have become extinct in the past decade and another 11 species face imminent threat of extinction unless their habitat is secured. In light of these statistics, it is essential that we take steps to safeguard this national treasure.

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 As part of our fight against the threat of deforestation, Expolanka joined the Hiniduma Tree Planting Initiative with the Carbon Consulting Company (CCC) and the Rainforest Rescue International (RRI). This initiative seeks to set up a biodiversity corridor between the country’s largest undisturbed rainforests – Sinharaja and Kanneliya- and to set up buffer zones around the forest edges using the ‘Analog Forestry’ concept. Biodiversity corridors are key landscape elements that serve to provide and increase connectivity between habitat patches.  As part of the first phase of the project, team Expolanka, CCC and RRI will plant over 1000 trees along Hiniduma and the borders of Kanneliya. As the area surrounding the rainforests is located in the Hiniduma area, the project is titled the ‘Hiniduma Bio Link Corridor’.

In the long term we hope to implement a ‘Payment for Ecosystem services model’ where participating farmers will receive payments in return for looking after trees. Farmers living on the forest edge of the Kanneliya reserve will benefit from the project. Participants will be paid a monthly amount for every tree that they preserve for the duration of the project.

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 The Hiniduma Tree Planting Initiative is the first project in Asia to complete a Plan Vivo validation. Plan Vivo is a framework for supporting communities to manage their natural resources more sustainably, with a view to generating climate, livelihood and ecosystem benefits. The Hiniduma project will use over 90 different tree species and aims to eventually restore 2000 ha of deforested and degraded land between Sinharaja and Kanneliya.

Through biodiversity projects such as these, Expolanka looks at improving not only the environment but the communities around the area. Worldwide, an increasing number of global companies are taking cognizance of the dire need to integrate sustainability and environmental consciousness in their day-to-day operations. As a company one of our goals is to be a trailblazer in developing long term sustainability and pave the way for other corporates to step up and do their part.

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