Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL)
Just as in other Asian economies, Sri Lanka’s private sector is its engine of growth. However, the combination of sustaining high economic growth rates and improving the lives of marginalised communities whilst not compromising on environmental conservation and restoration is one of the biggest challenges facing the country and the Asia region as a whole. Identifying this, IUCN, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and Dilmah Conservation established Biodiversity Sri Lanka (BSL), a knowledge platform where businesses can come together to share experiences and best practices, learn from their peers, and voice their needs and concerns aiming to strengthen the link between the business sector and biodiversity conservation. The concept was launched on the 12th of November 2012, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. BSL is a solutions provider that benefits businesses while respecting their responsibility to protect biodiversity of Sri Lanka. It’s success can be used as a model for the Asian region.
The challenge lied in the fact that 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. The platform benefits business by providing access to sectoral best practice for biodiversity conservation through the Resource Centre of the BSL website, contributing to the development of Principles of Best Practice Implementation and highlight outstanding contributions to biodiversity conservation through an award system.
Since the premise of the platform is knowledge, in addition to internal advice, 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. The chairman of the BSL Board of Directors is Dilhan C. Fernando, Trustee of Dilmah Conservation and Director of Dilmah Tea.
- Add economic value to biodiversity conservation and integrate it in to the core business of companies.
- Promote national cooperation and the exchange of ideas and information.
- Strengthen and increase the involvement of the private sector in biodiversity conservation.
- Foster national outreach and showcasing of successful resource management models or actions.
- Maintain a dialogue with state and civil society partners on biodiversity conservation issues
- 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.
- Gained thirty-one members.
- 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.
- International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
- Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC)