Technical team members:
Prof. Nimal Gunatilleke, University of Peradeniya
Prof. Savithri Gunatilleke, University of Peradeniya
Dr. Nalaka Geekiyanage, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka
Nature corridors are connections that link habitats. The Endana Nature Corridor (ENC) is 3 km long. Its purpose is to connect the fragmented Iharakanda and Walankanda Forest Reserves. This would allow threatened endemic species of plants and trees to freely migrate between habitats leading to ecological restoration and increased biodiversity. A key strategy for building the nature corridor has been by planting endemic tree species at the chosen site. To ensure the sustainable use of the forest resources and encourage preservation of forests and home gardens we have also integrated livelihood upliftment programmes.
In 2018 Dilmah founder Merrill J Fernando initiated the project by uprooting tea plant that had separated the two forest reserves for over 100 years. The project would serve as a model for large-scale nature corridors in future within Dilmah holdings and Sri Lanka.
Land use for the Endana nature corridor has been 24.3 ha taken from the Endana Tea Estate, 0.87 ha from active tea plantations and the remainder from abandoned tea lands.
Endemic species were selected for planting in the corridor based on the baseline survey, ensuring sustainability of the project. Since the project initiation several tree planting events have been completed:
Several research studies have been performed to measure and evaluate the current state of the land and plan the best way forward.
2018 Baseline survey to determine the soil profile and biodiversity of the region. Results were published as part of the dissertation of two PhD students on 5th September 2018.
2019 Baseline survey to gather information about its wildlife. Conducted by a research team from Rajarata University Sri Lanka with the guidance of the project technical team. During the survey, 201 species were found that included 34 endemic species and 20 were in the IUCN Red list as threatened.
2020 Socio-economic baseline survey for Endana Nature Corridor was completed by a research team of Rajarata University of Sri Lanka. Survey objectives were to evaluate how livelihood of the local community and sustainable use and preservation of forest resources could be improved, in addition to evaluating species diversity in home gardens of the said community.
|The following activities were also executed during the visit:||Socioeconomic Survey Research Team:|
|• Translocating bees for a home garden||• Dr. Nalaka Geekiyanage|
|• Visiting the village area and Walankanda area to understand the boundaries of the nature corridor and the village community, and||• Dr. Anura Sirisena|
|• Trekking to the Iharakanda Forest and village||• Mr. A P S Fernando|
|• Mr. Asanka Srimal|
|• Students from the Rajarata University|
|• Delwala Division Plantation Team|
Endana Nature Corridor Research
The plant nursery exists to ensure that trees reach maturity and that the adequate number of saplings can be generated for the sustainability for the project. Activities in plant nursery include seed collecting after locating mother trees, making soil medium, planting in nursery and nursery maintenance. Once saplings reach a suitable stage for planting, a tree planting event will be organised to establish the saplings in the nature corridor. The tree plantings help promote ecological restoration and biodiversity of the area.
2019 Plant nursery established for endangered and primary forest species
2020 From Sept 2020 to May 2021 over 3000 seeds collected
2021 The plant nursery grew to house 2641 nursery plants by May 2021
To support the sustainability of the nature corridor livelihood upliftment projects for communities in the nature corridor and environs in Endana have been organised.
The communities engaged in beekeeping are supported through education and awareness programmes facilitated by the Endana Resource Centre, while the ultimate goal is to establish a livelihood supporting beekeeping cottage industry – which will involve honey collection, processing the honey and crafting unique flavor profiles for honey.
January 2021 A livelihood supporting beekeeping programme commenced. Currently 10 bee colonies and a cottage level beekeeping industry has been established in the Endana area.
Education and Awareness
When a community is more aware and knowledgeable about the forest in their backyard and resources that they draw sustenance from, they are empowered to protect it.
April 2021 A sensory education programme was carried out for students from the MJF Child Development Centre in Endana, to help children get into the practice of caring for seeds and plants they have sown.