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Protecting the Kelani River Basin: KVPL and IUCN partner Surakimu Ganga conservation programme

In a landmark conservation partnership, Kelani Valley Plantations (KVPL), a member of Hayleys Plantations, together with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), championed the protection of habitats connected to the Kelani River Weoya catchment supporting the Government’s ‘Surakimu Ganga’ programme.

The company recently launched the Kelani Valley Protectors Initiative (KVPI) to action a series of efforts to conserve habitats and enhance biodiversity, including aquatic life, in the Kelani River Basin and the WeOya Estate, Yatiyanthota to enhance water resources for surrounding communities, with an initial focus on the Weoya catchment area.

Home to more than 25% of the local population, the catchment provides drinking water for more than 6 million people in Colombo and the suburbs. However, the river is polluted from industries, agriculture and households with fertiliser residues, eroded sediments, bacteria from sewage, discarded plastic, municipal waste and metals from industry or households.

“Kelani Valley Plantations PLC has a rich history of collaboration with IUCN in working towards biodiversity conservation, such as first ever more comprehensive bio-diversity assessment more than decade ago. We believe that conserving every aspect of the environment we work in as RPCs is of utmost importance to ensure a sustainable future for the industry. As such, we are proud to be supporting national efforts to safeguard our river habitats to ensure the livelihoods of our communities and surrounding biodiversity better through ongoing learnings and conservation efforts,” Hayleys Plantations Managing Director Dr. Roshan Rajadurai said.

KVPI, a ground-breaking ‘Public, Private and People Partnership’ model, aims to bring together plantation communities and scientists, trainers, government officials and like-minded entities onto a single platform to conserve, manage and monitor the WeOya catchment area. The initiative will be supported through the close collaboration of the Divisional Secretariats, forest, wildlife, agriculture and health-related agencies, Central Environment Authority, National Water Supply and Drainage Board and other relevant entities. 

Through the initiative, KVPI aims to prevent pollution and safeguard valuable water sources to protect the health outcomes, uplift the quality of life for Sri Lanka’s present and future generations, and protect biodiversity in and around the catchment area.

Additionally, capacity-building programmes organised under the initiative will support communities and small businesses in the area to manage plastic, metal and electronic waste, helping to adopt eco-friendly tourism strategies and maintain stringent environmental monitoring and waste minimisation protocols. A River Monitoring Programme will supplement education and awareness tools to manage plastic pollution and kayaks will be deployed for plastic collection operated by plantation communities.

To ensure sustained adoption and responsibility on-ground, community engagement initiatives including composting, home gardening, recycling and other environmentally friendly practices are included. Special attention will be given to schools in the area considering maximum participation by the school students through “Green Clubs” concept, and also utilising volunteer teachers’ educational materials and involving the students and teachers in environmental education, safety and nutrition.  

Further, the KVPI will empower youth to improve skills in first-aid, swimming and rescue techniques to enhance the safety of the community and its visitors.

“This initiative will build the health and safety of people, but it will also induce a transformational shift in the minds and way of working of all agencies and communities on the value of ecosystem protection,” IUCN Country Representative Dr. Ananda Mallawatantri indicated.

Notably, results and lessons learnt through the pilot project will be replicated in other catchments of the Kelani River and other river basins.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the World’s oldest conservation agency with more than 30 years of contributions in Sri Lanka.

The Kelani Valley Plantation PLC (KVPL) is the largest plantation group in the Kelani River Basin.

Kelani Valley Plantation PLC (KVPL) is a member of the Hayleys Plantations sector, comprised of 25 estates covering over 13,000 hectares of Tea, Rubber, Coconut, Cinnamon and Agroforestry plantations with more than 8,700 employees and a plantation community of over 58,000.




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