Current research on climate change trends have identified that Sri Lanka is highly susceptible to global climate change phenomena owing to its island location and close proximity to the equator. The potential impacts of climate change are already visible, and currently being experienced with changes in rainfall patterns and temperature levels. It is a rising global challenge and the pace at which the world is responding is too slow in order to balance the adverse effects we are experiencing now.
Tea plantations situated in Sri Lanka’s wet zone region are amongst the first places expected to be impacted by climate change. These regions are identified as the most climate sensitive part of Sri Lanka, where the average rainfall experienced is the highest compared to other parts of country. Annual rainfall patterns indicate that on average, a rainfall of 3000 millimetres and above are experienced in these regions.
Irreversible changes to ecosystems in Sri Lanka are visible in many parts of the country. The most fragile regions are sensitive to even a minute change in temperature. Food production and food security are key impact areas where change in climatic conditions can cause adverse socio-economic challenges. Measures have to be taken to preserve the water resources available due to unpredictable and erratic rainfall patterns. Precipitation patterns observed in the last two years have shown that the traditional timelines for harvesting of food crops have shifted dramatically, causing widespread loss of crops especially in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province. Intense flooding and extended drought periods have resulted in the destruction of thousands of hectares of crop.
To address the need for accurate climate change related data relevant to the tea growing regions of Sri Lanka, Dilmah Conservation established a Climate Change Research Station at the Queensberry Estate in Nawalapitiya. The climate change research station will be built at an elevation of 1645metres, the highest point of any estate owned by Kahawatte Plantations, will facilitate future research in measuring changes in climatic patterns in the country. The facility will be used by leading experts on climate science, to study general trends as well as to determine accurate weather patterns to be experienced across the country.
Research conducted at the field station will provide necessary models required for sustainable agricultural practices which relate to changing precipitation patterns as well as provide insight into climatic changes that can be expected in the tea growing regions of Sri Lanka. With the establishment of the climate change research station a lacuna in research in this sector will be addresses.
Some of the key research areas include:
The main objective is to facilitate local research on climate variability and its consequential effects on species, ecosystems and man-made systems such as large scale agricultural areas including tea plantations.
The specific objectives which are to be addressed in the short-term will be:
The Dilmah Conservation Centre for Climate Change Research & Adaptation [DC-CCCRA] was inaugurated by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando on 28th October, 2017.
The Dilmah Conservation Climate Change Advisory Committee comprises of the following distinguished individuals:
Department of Zoology, University of Colombo - Researchers from the University of Colombo will use the station to conduct research during different periods of the year, and they will continuously contribute to the management of the facility.