Dilmah Conservation launched a series of biodiversity assessments in Dilmah tea estates to ensure the conservation of biodiversity in tea gardens. Tea gardens have been identified to harbor various species of fauna and flora and these assessments were launched in order to identify and document these species for future conservation. As the first step, Dilmah Conservation worked with the Department of Zoology, University of Colombo and the IUCN Sri Lanka Country Office to carry out these assessments at Kahawatte and Rilhena, two estates in the Dilmah group. The overall objective was to document the natural habitats within these selected estates and to identify habitats which have special conservation value.
Through the assessment, many endemic and endangered species living in these tea gardens were uncovered. According to the preliminary floristic survey, a total of 498 species belonging to 112 plant families were recorded within the Rilhena estate. Of them, 44 species are endemic to Sri Lanka and 6 are listed as threatened species. Further, the land area is mostly covered with anthropogenic habitats, a large number of weedy and exotic species were also observed. The faunal study showed 215 faunal species including 36 endemics and six proposed endemics. They include 16 species that are listed as nationally threatened – 4 Endangered and 12 Vulnerable species and a further 27 species that are listed as nationally Near Threatened (NT).
Species recorded within Rilhena Estate
Some of the fish species discovered in the Dilmah tea gardens have been replicated at the Mankada pottery centre. These species include various endemic and indigenous varieties – Puntius cumingii and Puntius pleurotaenia are listed as Nationally Vulnerable (VU). Take a look at the fish species discovered below:
Reiterating its commitment to the environment, Dilmah Conservation has identified initiatives that can help protect and preserve the biodiversity of the tea gardens. These include education of communities through specially established environmental committees, encouraging sustainable ecotourism, species and habitat management and soil and water conservation.
Project partners: Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, University of Colombo & International Union for the Conservation of Nature – IUCN