Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL)

Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL) is a knowledge sharing platform owned and driven by the private sector to strengthen the link between business, and biodiversity and environmental conservation in Sri Lanka. Though it businesses can come together to discuss best practices, voice their needs and concerns, and design novel solutions that contribute towards conservation efforts at a national level.

Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies Board

The concept was launched on the 12th of November 2012, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Its initiating partners were the IUCN, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and Dilmah Conservation. Its membership has since grown significantly, and currently includes 32 Patron Members, 34 General Members and 1 Associate Member. The chairman of the BSL Board of Directors is Dilhan C. Fernando, Trustee of Dilmah Conservation and Director of Dilmah Tea.

Since the premise of the platform is knowledge, the initiative seeks guidance from external representatives from academia, policy makers, media, financial and the business sector on a variety of implementation activities. Thus, BSL constitutes an advisory panel to provide science, technical and management advice relevant to its functioning.

Safeguarding biodiversity is integral to sustainable development, competitiveness, economic growth and employment. Many of the services that biodiversity and ecosystems provide are currently severely threatened.  BSL facilitates dialogue between state and civil society partners and the private sector, advocating biodiversity-friendly policies and positive instruments that campaign for the conservation of Sri Lanka’s fragile environment.

  • Objectives

    • To integrate biodiversity conservation into the core business.
    • 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.
  • Progress

    International Day for Biological Diversity- Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity

    Biodiversity Sri Lanka's Collaborative Event

    Biodiversity Sri Lanka hosted a collaborative event to highlight the progress made in biodiversity conservation at national level by member companies, to commemorate the 'International Day for Biological Diversity- Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity’ which also marks the 25th year since the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) came into effect, following the Earth Summit at Rio de Janerio.

    The Life Project

    Agreement Accepting Hand Shake

    ‘The Life Project’ is an initiative to restore a 10ha block of degraded land, in the Kanneliya Forest Reserve by utilizing the scientific principles of ecological restoration. It is being implemented by BSL in partnership with the Forest Department, IUCN, Dilmah Conservation and other select private partners. Field work for the pilot project commenced on the 3rd of July 2018.

    Bonn Challenge Barometer of Progress Project

    This project aims to enhance the ecological functions, habitat quality, species diversity and the capacity to provide biodiversity and ecosystem services of the selected land within the forest reserve. A GPS survey of the selected land has been successfully completed. The land will be fenced off to avoid potential threats by herbivores, and a baseline survey will be conducted in order to develop a forest management plan for the region.

    Learning event on Biochar

    A Person holding Biochar

    Dilmah Conservation, a pioneer in biochar research and application in Sri Lanka assisted Biodiversity Sri Lanka in organizing a learning event on biochar Biochar: A Sustainable Option for Soil Remediation And Pollutant Removal to share best practices and case studies on the successful application of biochar on a pilot scale; thereby urging private and public sector entities on the 10th of July 2018 at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The event attracted more than 22 participants from the Plantation Sector, of which 50% was from BSL member companies.

    Resource Efficiency Pledge

    BSL launched a Resource Efficiency Pledge for its members in January 2018. Members of Biodiversity Sri Lanka pledge to make resource efficiency a priority in their businesses and reduce waste generated through their operations to a minimal or zero level.

    Members of Biodiversity Sri Lanka

    Some of the key commitments of the pledge include reducing energy consumption, water usage, raw materials, greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing efforts towards recycling and minimising unsustainable packaging requirements. So far, 21 companies have committed towards BSL’s Resource Efficiency Pledge. Dilmah was one of these companies.

    Cave Biodiversity in Sri Lanka

    Sri Lankan dark caves support important biodiversity, which has been largely neglected by the conservation community to date. The dark caves are threatened by improper landscape management and disturbance due to unregulated cave tourism.

    As almost no dark caves in Sri Lanka have been surveyed and none are legally protected for their biodiversity yet, there is an urgent need to identify and protect key sites for cave biodiversity nationally. To address this issue Biodiversity Sri Lanka partnered with Dilmah Conservation and the Lanka Institute of Cave Science (LICAS) in 2017 to document the diverse range of organisms that inhabit these dark, understudied structures.Learn more about the project click here

    Previous projects facilitated by Biodiversity Sri Lanka are:

    • Castlereigh Solid Waste Management Project conducted in cooperation with Dilmah Conservation and Resplendent Ceylon was successful in improving awareness on responsible solid waste management practices amongst nearly 2,000 people in the vicinity of Castlerigh Reservoir.
    • HSBC committed to promoting pepper cultivation tin the Knuckles Conservation Forest and Environmental Protection Area in an effort to minimize the damage from chena cultivation within the catchment area.
    • Supported by Sampath Bank PLC and implemented by the Sri Lanka Water Partnership (SLWP) the ‘Wetworking and Conservation of the Bolgoda Wetland Complex (BWC)’ project aims to restore the degraded areas of the Bolgoda Wetland Complex in order to maintain watershed services, conserve biodiversity and increase its resilience to climate change was successfully completed.
    • Commercial Bank PLC and BSL is involved in the ecological assessment and monitoring of the coral reefs around Hikkaduwa. The assessment showed the degradation of rehabilitated corals due to large visitor impacts and also the sedimentation arising from the constructed breakwater.
    • A partnership with Dilmah Conservation and LICAS (Lanka Institue of Cave Sciences) to determine the species richness in the dark caves of Sri Lanka, identify and characterize key sites for conservation in terms of their biological, economic and cultural values and determine threats to these sites by establishing their associated human-cave interactions was initiated in August.
    • A Policy Gap Analysis for the Integration of Biodiversity into the Tourism Sector Policies, Laws and Strategies together with a study on Lesser Known Biodiversity Rich Areas was carried out with support of UNDP.
    • BSL supported by the Responsible Ecosystems Sourcing Platform (RESP) looked into institutional, legal, social, environmental and employee health and safety aspects of the operations Gem Mining Sector. This is expected to contribute towards the development of standards in keeping with international sustainability requirements for high-valued gem industry.
    • Resilience Ranking for the Plantations will be developed for the plantations with focus on Social and Environmental Resilience with technical assistance from UNDP and the Plantations and Agribusiness Standing Committee. Also, performance indicators will be established for soil fertility, energy security, social security, natural disasters, GHG emissions, adaptation to Climate Change, knowledge and awareness enhancement and monitoring and Data management systems. 9.The Biodiversity Projects Ranking Scheme , which is now in operation, was introduced as a scheme suitable to the country, which could be used to assess biodiversity conservation projects in order to determine success and levels of planning and achievement in order to uplift the projects to national and international standards.
    • BSL commemorated the International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD) on Monday 22nd May 2017 with four illustrative case study presentations on “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism”. The event was attended by over 100 participants from the Government, Private, NGO and Academic sectors and they benefited from the case study presentations as well as the rich discussion followed.
    • The second phase of the Biodiversity Credit Accruals Scheme will undertake the restoration of the degraded area adjacent to Kanneliya Forest Reserve enabling biodiversity conservation project owners to generate marketable credits from the enhancement, of not only carbon benefits of reforestation, but also non-carbon benefits.
    • Under ‘Organic Farming: Grow Organic – Go Organic’ People’s Leasing and Finance PLC trained two schools and fifty microfinance practitioners on organic farming practices in Avissawella and Kalutara with the technical support of the Platform and expert know-how delivered by the Dilmah Conservation Sustainable Agriculture Research Centre.
    • Biodiversity Education and Research (BEAR) and supported by CIC Holdings successfully completed two phases of “Estimating Sloth Bear Population Densities in the Wilpattu National Park” Project. The project mapped and evaluated the population densities of sloth bears in the Wilpattu National Park under the guidance of the Department of Wildlife Conservation using camera trap surveys, track census surveys and silent drive census.
    • Establishment of four sector-based standing committees catering to the specific biodiversity needs of the Banking and Finance, Engineering and Construction, Plantation, and Tourism and Hospitality sectors were established.
    • Member of the Global Partnership on Business and Biodiversity established under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Additional international linkages were forged with centers of excellence and networking bodies such as the United Nations Global Compact, UNDP, UNREDD, GIZ, CII, USAID and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
    • Development of a comprehensive technical database, which carries information on the expertise available in diverse and relevant subject areas. Requirements of businesses related to conservation are directed to the intellectual mainstream and academia through its database.
    • Recognizing outstanding corporate contributions to biodiversity conservation, knowledge of best practices is disseminated through workshops and learning events.
    • A scoping survey was carried out amongst its members in 2015 in order to explore ongoing and planning activities with regard to biodiversity conservation. This survey lead to the establishment of an Online Project Bank focusing on national biodiversity priorities.
    • A significant number of the Sustainability Project Awards awarded by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce at its annual Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Awards in November 2016 were members of BSL.
    • Partnerships with the UN-REDD Programme in Sri Lanka, the Forest Department, UNDP, the Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Federation of Environmental Organizations with which events were held with a large Member participation.