Rainforest corridor program in southern Sri Lanka with partner Rainforest Rescue International (RRI).
RCF Treasurer Jonathan Green and RCF Board member Joy Schochet visited with RRI members in Sri Lanka during January 2010. Impressed with their tour of this grassroots rainforest conservation and restoration effort, RCF decided to support this project during 2010. Sri Lanka has been classified as a biodiversity hot spot, which means it is one of the 25 richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on earth. Sri Lanka’s primary rainforest has been reduced to approximately 6% of its original size and the remaining 188 forest patches are small and fragmented – putting a huge strain on the animal populations that reside in rainforest areas.
The Rainforest Conservation Fund and RRI are now working to restore and conserve the highly-threatened rainforest habitat between the Sinharaja World Heritage Forest Reserve and Kanneliya Forest Reserve, both classified as Man and Biosphere reserves by UNESCO. The program aims to protect and increase habitat and conservation areas by establishing biodiversity corridors between these two large remnant forest patches. These linkages will reduce animal extinction by creating more habitats, maintaining migratory pathways and encouraging gene flow. The initial area of restoration is approximately 10,000 hectares. Together with local communities, the project plants endemic and native trees of high ecological and economic value in degraded forests.
With support from RCF, the corridor program is constructing a new rainforest tree nursery at its field station in the village of Hiniduma. Local participation is very enthusiastic, and there is far more demand for the seedlings and inclusion in the project than we can currently provide. This community effort helps to ensure the long-term survival of the trees and address rural poverty, while establishing a vital rainforest corridor connecting protected areas. To date, RCF has provided $4000 to this nursery and tree-planting project, and more funds are needed for 2011.