Pledges to uplift biodiversity on World Environment Day
Continuing its efforts in uplifting biodiversity in Sri Lanka, leading conglomerate Expolanka Holdings PLC joined The Hiniduma Tree Planting Initiative with Carbon Consulting Company (CCC) and Rainforest Rescue International (RRI) to help preserve the rainforests of the country.
Recognised as one of the finest biodiversity hotspots in the world, Sri Lanka is blessed with a flagship ecosystem, similar to the likes of Malayan peninsula rainforests. However, due to continuous deforestation, disintegration for agricultural purposes and illegal logging of timber, only 4% of the country’s rainforest cover is said to be remaining.
The initiative announced on World Environment Day will look at setting up a biodiversity corridor between the two large remnant disturbed rainforest patches – Singharaja and Kanneliya and to conserve buffer zones around the forest edges using the ‘Analog Forestry’ concept. This project will plant over 1,000 trees initially. As the area surrounding the rainforests is located in the Hiniduma area, the project is titled ‘Hiniduma Bio Link Corridor ’
Expolanka’s Head of Marketing, Corporate Communications and CSR Paddy Weerasekera said, “Being in the forefront of biodiversity projects such as this, Expolanka looks at improving not only the environment but the connecting sources such as communities around the area. As a secondary objective, the project aspires to augment the livelihoods of traditional communities living in close proximity to tracts of natural forest where biodiversity is high, but under imminent threat. We have identified and approached farmers in the forest-edge communities along the Kanneliya Reserve buffer zone to work with in this unique project”.
Weerasekera noted that the long term project adopts a ‘payments for Ecosystem Services’ model where participating farmers will receive staged payments in return for looking after the trees. Participants are paid a monthly amount for every tree that they continue to preserve for the duration of the project which is 20 years.
“The word SUSTAINABILITY is no longer just a “buzzword” in corporate parlance” says COO of The Carbon Consulting Company – Sanith de S. Wijeyeratne “Worldwide, an increasing number of global companies are taking cognizance of the dire need to integrate sustainability and environmental consciousness in their day to day operations. We are greatly encouraged by Expolanka’s support of this unique bio-diversity project and we hope it paves the way for many other local corporates to step up to the plate”.
“Expolanka Holdings PLC aspires to be a leader in developing long term sustainability in the communities it operates in. The CSR practices is intertwined to the operations of the business and targets delivering social, economic and environmental benefits to employees, communities and other stakeholders. Over the years the company has initiated several long term and short term CSR initiatives, and will continue to do the same in the future.” Weerasekera added.
Expolanka was also the first and only Sri Lankan Freight and Logistics company to obtain the Carbon Neutral Certification and a first in Asia. Also in its CSR portfolio is Expo Medix – a low cost medical clinic, free health camps and awareness programs on health and diseases, degree scholarship programmes, disaster relief, infrastructure development, food programs and environmental initiatives, including World Water Day, Earth Hour and Environment Day activities. All CSR projects are focused on five areas – health, education, environment, community development and disaster relief covering most of the societal needs of the country and thus establishing Expolanka as a corporate citizen working for a better tomorrow.