Value Sri Lanka’s biodiversity and ecosystem services
Sri Lanka has been identified as one of the 36 global biodiversity hotspots, with ad-hoc decisions in land use planning increasingly threatening the country’s biological diversity and aggravating the severe impacts of natural disasters, such as floods and landslides. The IKI Small Grants project aims to protect Sri Lanka’s important habitats and ecosystems by enabling informed, science-based decision making in land use planning. In cooperation with national experts and government agencies, the project creates an index to identify critical habitats across the country and integrates it into land use planning databases at all scales. To further improve decision-making processes, the project provides policymakers with guidelines and decision trees. It promotes the integration of conservation areas into development plans. Therefore, it contributes to minimising the detrimental impacts on the environment and to enhancing the societal benefits provided by ecosystems for human well-being.
Sri Lanka has been identified as one of the 36 global biodiversity hotspots. The country has high levels of endemism amongst both its fauna and flora. However, this is coupled with extensive loss and degradation of natural ecosystems. Since the end of the 30-year civil war in 2009, Sri Lanka has been on a fast-track to economic growth. A significant gap in knowledge regarding biodiversity hotspots, critical habitats and ecosystem services has led to adhoc decisions in land use planning. Also, a systematic land use risk assessment has never been conducted in the country. The current developments are causing detrimental effects on ecosystems and depreciating environmental integrity. Moreover, environmental degradation exacerbates the increasingly severe impacts of natural disasters, especially floods and landslides.
The project strongly cooperates with the Biodiversity Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment and other national level stakeholders. Project results, such as the newly developed database, are shared with local government land use planners to enable and facilitate the integration of important conservation areas into land use planning databases at all scales. National biological diversity experts and government agencies such as the Department of Meteorology, Disaster Management or Census and Statistics provide relevant data.
APPROACH AND ACTIVITIES
The IKI Small Grants project aims to protect Sri Lanka’s important habitats and ecosystems by enabling informed, science-based decision making in land use planning. In cooperation with a biodiversity expert resource group the project collects and analyses spatial data on the biological diversity value, based on nine indicator species groups and ecosystem services, as well as on the overall threat value, based on population density, poverty, land use and climate vulnerability, across the whole country. On this basis, the project creates an index that allows identifying critical areas for biodiversity loss. Information on geographic regions suitable for various land uses, including conservation and development, are integrated into a national scale map (National Physical Plan 2017-2050 – NPP) and other land use planning databases at all scales. The project further develops a guidelines framework and decision tree for land use planning for reference by national policymakers. To encourage replication of the methodology and approach on a wider level, the implementing organisation EFL shares its project results and methodology via the organisation’s website, scientific platforms and on an international conference.
IKI Small Grants supports EFL in their organisational capacity development through:
- Advanced trainings in fundraising, proposal writing, and in the use of GIS mapping software
- Review and update of current organisational policies and procedures
- Leadership and team building exercise
As EFL’s portfolio is growing, the organisation is increasingly engaging with international donors. Through the improvement of internal structures and training of employees EFL seeks to improve its access to (larger) international funding opportunities, enhance team bonds and improve decision making processes.
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
Environmental Foundation Limited (EFL) is a non-profit public-interest litigation and scientific research organisation. It was founded in 1981 and later incorporated under the Companies Act as (Guarantee) Limited. Its mission is to conserve, protect the natural environment of Sri Lanka, assuring a sustainable future for the country, people, and biodiversity. EFL‘s work ranges from litigation to conservation and research projects, collaborative efforts with government officials to develop national policies and communication strategies to engage and generate awareness among the public.