World Biodiversity Week is upon us. Commencing on International Day for Biological Diversity on 22nd May, the theme for 2016 is Sustaining People and their Livelihoods. We at the Carbon Consulting Company couldn’t help but share a project that is very dear to our hearts, The Hiniduma Bio-link Project.
What is the Project?
The ‘Hiniduma Bio-link Project’ is a CSR effort of Carbon Consulting Company (CCC). The project was established in 2011, with the objective to establish a biodiversity corridor between the two largest rainforest patches in the island – Singharaja (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Kanneliya (an International Man and Biosphere Reserve), and to conserve buffer zones around the forest edges through reforestation.
The primary objective is to mitigate pressure on local communities in the surrounding areas of the remaining rainforest patches, whilst the secondary objective focuses on enhancing the livelihoods of traditional communities who living in close proximity to the forest that are rich in flora and fauna, but is under imminent threat such as logging and human encroachment for agricultural purposes. To this effect, CCC has identified and approached farmers within the communities at the boundary of the forest along the Kanneliya Reserve.
The total land area of the proposed corridor is approximately 20,000 hectares, which started off with a simple 10-hectare pilot project in 2011, and has so far planted over 12,000 trees as of 2016.
A Win-Win Solution for everyone involved
First, the corridor enhances the conservation of biodiversity by linking with other nearby forests, which increases forest coverage by introducing native and endemic rainforest species. This allows the expansion of habitats for native and endemic wildlife.
Secondly, local communities benefit from planting a mix of trees, some of which are native forest trees and others, which can bring economic benefits, which are always in demand (spices, fruit trees, herbs and medicinal plants). The farmers receive remuneration for their efforts in ensuring that trees are planted and maintained for up to a 15-year period.
Third, the Carbon Dioxide sequestered as a result of this project generates carbon credits that can be sold as Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) credits in the local and international carbon markets. The Hiniduma Bio-link Project is Asia’s FIRST Forestry Project to have been certified under the renowned Plan Vivo Standard that looks at benefits to both the environment as well as poor communities. Therefore, the project is mainly funded through finances generated from selling these carbon credits. Large firms such as Linea Aqua and even conglomerates such as Expo Lanka have invested in Hiniduma due to its uniqueness over other tree planting projects, which is the project’s secondary funding mechanism.
Supporting Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)
Given the benefits outlined above, we can confidently say that the project supports 4 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. For example, providing remuneration for local farmers to plant trees provides them with an additional source of income and helps them to not only escape poverty but also earn decent work and it allows the community to grow. (Goal 1: Escape poverty, Goal 8-Decent Work and Economic Growth). In addition, planting trees allows us to combat climate change (Goal 13-Climate Action) and also take care of native species (Goal 15-Life on Land)
In 2011, Marks & Spencer purchased carbon credits from the Hiniduma Bio-link project in order to produce the first ever Carbon Neutral Lingerie Range. For more information, click here
What does the Future Hold?
As this is a landmark in South Asia, it becomes necessary to ensure that we adopt practices to ensure that the project is self-sustaining. To fulfill this requirement, we are happy to report that a Community Based Organisation (CBO) was formed in 2015 with all smallholder farmers partnering with the project in order to help us improve our engagement with the farmers and the local community through better identification of their needs and requirements. Through this CBO, we aim to provide more training and awareness to the whole community including school children on various topics such as Global Warming & Climate Change; the importance of Rain Forests; Organic Farming Practices; about Bee Keeping & other potential avenues of additional income generation; etc. Furthermore, plans are underway to develop and market forestry-based products, so make sure you stay connected!
For any enquiries regarding the Hiniduma Bio-link Project, please contact the Project Coordinator, Shermila Weragoda at firstname.lastname@example.org