Biological corridors link natural habitats that have become fragmented and isolated because of human settlements and activities. They provide threatened endemic flora with a means of migrating between habitats to perpetuate their species and escape stressful environmental conditions that may otherwise drive them towards extinction.
Following careful selection processes, Dilmah’s Endana Tea Estate was chosen as an ideal location to establish a pilot-scale biological corridor in the year 2014. The project aimed to lay the groundwork for much larger nature corridors that can enhance the biodiversity and conservation value of Dilmah’s land holdings, and Sri Lanka at large.
To Celebrate Dilmah’s 30th anniversary in 2018 and cement Dilmah’s commitment to protecting the fragile ecosystems found in relation to the changing elevations of tea estates, Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando, uprooted tea plants at the Endana Tea Estate and initiated the construction of a 3 km long Nature Corridor to reconnect the Iharakanda and Walankanda Forest Reserves which have been separated by tea plantations and human settlements for over 100 years.
Enhance the biodiversity/conservation value of Dilmah’s land holding.
Link protected areas with Dilmah land holdings using mechanisms such as corridors, mosaics, stepping stones.
Showcase participatory approaches to conserving nature and the sustainable use of natural resources.
Demonstrate the benefits of connectivity conservation to local communities and small holding tea growers.
Promote good practice within the tea industry sector and share lessons learned more widely in the region and globally such as restorative home gardening initiatives towards mitigating landslides which frequently affect the area.
The 3 km long nature corridor connecting Iharakanda and Walankanda Forest Reserves was initiated on 1st January 2018 under the supervision of specialists from The University of Peradeniya - Prof. Nimal Gunatilleke and Prof. Savithri Gunatilleke, and support from the Forest Department of Sri Lanka.
A baseline survey was conducted in early 2018 to ascertain the soil profile and biodiversity of the region. The results were published as part of the dissertation of two PhD students on September 5th 2018.
To ensure the sustainability of the project, endemic species for planting in the corridor have been selected based on the above-mentioned baseline survey.
The land use map for the nature corridor was finalised in December 2018. 24.3 ha of Endana Tea Estate land has been allocated for the nature corridor. Of this land 0.87 ha were taken from active tea plantations while the remainder was taken from abandoned tea estates.
Measures to engage local communities, enrich their home gardens and provide them with alternative sustainable sources of income such as beekeeping and mushroom cultivation are being undertaken to prevent encroachment and ensure the sustainability of the project.
To read more about the birth of the project in 2014 click here.