May 30, 2021

WNPS Forges New Ground through Private Land Acquisition for Biodiversity Conservation

WNPS Forges New Ground  through Private Land Acquisition for Biodiversity Conservation

Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) is pleased to sign their inaugural Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), under the PLANT Guarantee Company.

PLANT - WNPS’ Preserving Land and Nature Trust, was set up with the aim of acquiring privately owned lands for the purpose of conservation (outright or on a long-term lease) and to collect funds through the Trust, to purchase lands for the purpose of conservation. Sustainable forest-grown Ceylon tea brand Kaley Teas will be partnering with WNPS on this ground-breaking PLANT initiative.

In a time of rapid development and increasing demand for resources such as now, land conservation and reforestation play an important role in safeguarding wildlife habitats. Protecting unharmed forests is also among the most efficient and cost-effective ways to combat climate change. The PLANT (Preserving Land and Nature Trust) strategy is to acquire as many acres of private land as possible for conservation purposes under a Single Purpose Vehicle (either through lease or outright donation of land and by collecting funds under the Trust for purchasing of land). Acquiring private land for the purpose of biodiversity conservation is not a new concept and is practiced globally with a lot of success. The aim of the vehicle is to increase the land extent available for conservation, as remaining habitats are being eroded by unplanned development and unsustainable agricultural practices that cause grave and unprecedented threat to both forest cover and wildlife.

Pioneers in conservation

Established in 1894, the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) is the third oldest conservation society in the world and the largest in Sri Lanka with a membership base of over 3,000. For the last 127 years WNPS has been working with many stakeholders including scientists, researchers, policy makers, conservationists, activists and the general public, to protect Sri Lanka's rich biodiversity. Partnering with companies and supporters who share the same vision, allows the WNPS to springboard its efforts in protecting Sri Lanka’s flora and fauna for future generations.

Protecting Sri Lanka’s wildlife habitats is now more important than ever

Sri Lanka is known as a global biodiversity hotspot for its high number of species, in a relatively limited area. Sri Lanka’s biodiversity also has a high rate of endemism - about 27% of the country's plants are endemic and 22% of its amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Sadly, Sri Lanka has one of the highest recorded rates of primary forest destruction in the world (Global Forest Watch). Primary forest cover has fallen from 84% in 1881 to less than 17% today (Mongbay). Habitat loss is the leading threat to Sri Lanka's native ecosystems and species. It should come as no surprise that 30 species of mammals, 14 species of birds, 13 species of reptiles, 75 species of amphibians, 121 species of fish and 298 species of plants in Sri Lanka are listed as Threatened (IUCN Red List version 2020)

The biggest threat to Sri Lanka’s forests and wildlife habitats are human activities such as urbanization, agricultural expansion and ill-advised development projects.

Government decisions, such as the decision to abolish Circular No. 5/2001 and hand over forested land classified as Other State Forests (OSF) from the Forest Department (FD) to the Divisional Secretaries and District Secretaries for selected development projects, will destroy even more of our wildlife habitats.

Partners with a shared visionz

Kaley Teas is a pioneering Ceylon tea, which comes from a single garden surrounded by forests, bordering Sinharaja Rainforest. The tea is grown organically, made with the finest leaves that are hand-picked, naturally withered from the winds from the rainforest and hand made.

Kaley continues to restore abandoned tea lands stripped of its natural balance by re-establishing bio diverse forest eco-systems. As Kaley’s teas are grown in a forest environment, the income of the community who grow and make tea is totally dependent on the existence of the forest. In this regard, Kaley Farms has set up a multi-pronged program to enrich the living standards of the families involved in the growing, plucking and making of Kaley Tea. Kaley will share their life stories, especially those of women and children who face various challenges on a daily basis. This will enable their partners to relate much closer to their communities. Ultimately, Kaley hopes that these actions will positively impact the 300 or so families in the village and will also help build a model that could be rolled-out elsewhere in the country.

Through this partnership WNPS and Kalay Teas hopes to protect and further develop the forest eco system and biodiversity, carry out research, publish findings which can aid in conservation and conduct training programs to educate village communities to ensure sustainability.

Want to get involved in saving Sri Lanka’s biodiversity?

Acquiring private land for conservation purposes is one of the best strategies to protect species and their habitats.

  • Would you like to have a lasting impact on biodiversity conservation in Sri Lanka?
  • Do you have land bordering biodiversity sensitive areas, wildlife habitats, forests or national parks, which can be committed to the purposes of nature conservation?

  • By partnering with WNPS on the PLANT initiative, you will be playing a vital role in helping to protect Sri Lanka’s wildlife and their habitats for future generations of Sri Lankans.

    If you are interested in finding out more about WNPS’ PLANT Initiative or would like to find out how you can contribute, please contact WNPS on [email protected] or call +94 11 2 887390.