World Bank gives US$45mn to protect Sri Lanka’s natural habitats

ECONOMYNEXT – The World Bank has approved a 45 million US dollar loan to help protect Sri Lanka’s natural habitats and resources from degradation and exploitation.

The money will also help improve the lives and livelihoods of neighboring communities, who suffer the most from natural resource loss and degradation, a statement said.

“Natural ecosystems in Sri Lanka provide clean water, food, medicine, carbon storage, recreation and habitats for local communities, wildlife and fisheries, and prevent floods and erosion,” said Francoise Clottes, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

 “If well managed, these areas will benefit the national economy, spur Sri Lanka’s nature-based tourism potential, and help address local challenges brought on by poverty, decreased productivity and degradation of land and water, human-wildlife conflicts, and climate change.”

The Eco-systems Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP) will benefit 15,000 residents; 30 percent among them women, with most belonging to marginalized groups, the bank said.

It will protect and foster the sustainable use of natural resources help create jobs and livelihoods.

Through the Department of Wildlife Conservations and Forest Department, the project will manage protected natural areas through improved landscape management, raise awareness and improve coordination on natural resource management among local authorities, and increase the quality of nature-based tourism.

“The project will improve the management and stewardship of protected areas and other biologically important locations throughout Sri Lanka,” said Darshani De Silva, Environment Specialist and Project Task Team.

“It will help establish networks to protect ecosystems, maintain the population of endemic species, while promoting environmentally sound infrastructure development and visitor services to raise the quality and revenue potential of green tourism.”

The project also aligns with the government’s policies to expand forest cover in line with Sri Lanka’s conservation strategy ‘Punarudaya’.

The project, to be done by the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment and Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, will develop human-elephant co-existence mechanism and protect watersheds to boost agricultural productivity, the World Bank said.

“Over time, the project will reinforce the emerging strategy on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation as well as policies to promote sustainable water, agriculture and energy practices, while supporting social inclusion and resilience to climate and disaster risks.”

The loan is provided by the International Development Association – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm –with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5 year grace period.
(Colombo/April 27 2016)