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Sri Lanka to conserve bio-diversity in Malwathu-Oya basin with IUCN, UNPD

ECONOMYNEXT – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said it is starting a bio-diversity management project in the Malwathu Oya Basin of North-West of Sri Lanka to help communities engage in economic activities while protecting biodiversity, reducing human-animal conflicts and threats to ecosystems.

“This project brings together the strengths of all systems,

“The Government, UNDP and IUCN will work together to make this a success by incorporating stakeholders’ plans and linking biodiversity conservation with socio-economic benefits to the community,” Anil Jasinghe, Secretary, Ministry of Environment said.

“It’s important to look beyond the project life span. We have to ensure that each intervention will have a lasting impact on the lives and livelihoods of the communities living in the Malwathu Oya basin.

UNDP says Sri Lanka is the only country in Asia with the highest national coverage with 30-per cent protected lands.

But human activities, development projects and inconsistent environment policies pose threats to the conservation of the Island’s biodiversity

The project expects to reduce direct threats to biodiversity through integrated, ecologically sensitive planning and decision-making in natural resource management, and tourism that protects biodiversity, reduces resource conflicts and maintains ecosystem services.

“IUCN will bring in proven global tools and knowledge to enrich the process,” Ananda Mallawatantri, Country Representative, IUCN Sri Lanka.

“This novel ‘managing together’ approach would provide solutions to multiple development issues, including water-related health problems, the human-elephant conflict, poverty led deforestation, loss of coastal coral and seagrass due to overexploitation, among others.”

The project ‘Managing Together: Integrating community-centred, ecosystem-based approaches into forestry, agriculture and tourism sectors’ is conducted by the Ministry of Environment together with UNDP, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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UNDP said this will address the requirements of wild species and humans through biodiversity mainstreaming and conservation landscape design, accompanied by a community-centred land-use plan with livelihood-focused interventions at the village scale.

The project is set to complete by January 2025 and aims to implement a long-term monitoring programme to track the impacts of the landscape approach, make necessary adjustments based on results and establish a dissemination programme to encourage the adoption of this modified approach in other parts of the country. (Colombo/Mar02/2021)

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