Fundamentally we all depend on nature; and ecosystems provide us with the opportunity to describe, understand, and fit in with nature. Food, water, timber, and genetic resources; regulating services such as the climate, floods, diseases, and water quality; cultural services such as recreation, aesthetic enjoyment, and spiritual fulfillment are some of the goods and services provided by ecosystems. Due to increased development activities and greater consumption of natural resources, ecosystems are under pressures than ever before. Although the benefits and services provided by ecosystems are owned by everyone, none protects the ecosystems. Unbalanced human activities often affect ecosystems negatively; as a result, the environment is damaged, and humans have created limits for life on Earth for many species by widening the gap between people and nature. The health of ecosystems is being undermined by changes in land-use, pollution, habitat loss, climate change and poor land management practices, which lead to deteriorating soil quality, loss of biodiversity, and deforestation. As the significance of ecosystem conservation and management is not being recognized adequately, or being uniformly defined or consistently applied, it is not very far for people to realize that resourcism has prevented us from saving the ecosystems and our ecological knowledge. Hence, ecosystem conservation and management are the response to the expanding biodiversity crisis, and to uplift the action that promises a healthy future for the entire biotic components.
Sri Lanka, a lower middle-income country with a total population of 20.7 million is in the verge of transitioning from a previously predominantly rural-based economy towards a more urbanized economy oriented around manufacturing and services. Fragmented and uncoordinated institutional responsibilities and overlapping mandates have led to poor effectiveness of development planning in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is ranked as one of the 35 global biodiversity hotspots that exhibits a wide array of ecosystems with a diversity of species considered to be the richest per unit area in the Asian region; the lack of integrated planning has aggravated uncontrolled development pressures, degraded ecosystem quality, and have diminished the potential for environmental service provision.
The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has recognized that the long-term sustainability of the environment and natural resources depends on their ability to provide benefits to people and the country. It has realized that the recoverable ecological integrity is the only hope; but change does not always come easily, one also needs to plan for it; and now the choice is ours.
In acknowledging the challenge of environmental and natural resources degradation, the Ecosystem Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP) aims to enhance the management and sustainable use of ecosystems in selected priority locations in Sri Lanka through a series of complementary and synergistic components. ESCAMP emphasizes on biodiversity protection with integrated planning that would align and balance development programs within the protected areas (PAs) based on environmental and social priorities by enabling the participation of local communities and other relevant stakeholders by ensuing benefits for them. This project is designed along four main components comprising of several sub-components to generate national and local environmental and community-level benefits, and planned to be implemented over five years.
The component facilitates planning and implementation of activities in two selected biodiversity rich landscapes (a wet zone and a dry zone) as a model learning exercise with unique ecological, cultural and socio-economic characteristics. Landscape Management Plans include habitat improvements and biodiversity enhancement of Protected Areas (PAs) along with incorporating GoSL’s national and sectoral plans. Support stakeholder cooperation to identify the challenges, opportunities and needs in the application of management strategies, and strengthen sustainable land use management and planning by providing technical assistance, training and capacity building to develop the guiding framework for landscape-level management planning and support the piloting of landscape planning and management through:
This component promotes productive biodiversity compatible livelihood activities to reduce forest destruction. Planning the use of natural resources and aiming to transform Human Elephant Conflict into Human Elephant Co-existence by addressing the needs of the communities living in close association with the wildlife in the adjacent areas of Protected Areas (PAs).
This component shall finance the identification and implementation of biodiversity-friendly and climate-smart existing or new livelihood options through participatory Community Action Plans (CAPs).
This comprises of three key areas of interventions:
Human-Elephant Co-Existence (HECOEX) activities will finance the scaling up successful human-elephant coexistence pilot models within high Human-Elephant Conflict areas.
Update the national master plan for HEC mitigation and development of HECOEX models for other areas
Support demand-driven interventions in Protected Areas (PAs) in accordance with the Fauna & Flora Protection Ordinance, and Forest Ordinance; strengthen institutional capacity and investment capability for conservation and management; and provide assistance to develop the long-term financial sustainability for managing Protected Areas (PAs). This includes:
This will finance the updating and/or developing of PA management plans where needed and the implementation of PA management plans. Priority PAs in the DWC and FD PA network covering terrestrial, marine and wetland PAs are eligible.
This aims at improving the current status of nature-based tourism and visitor services in PAs, based on needs and carrying capacity assessments.
This will support to –
This component shall finance the Project Management Unit (PMU) and implementing agencies in project management, project monitoring and evaluation, through the provision of incremental operating funds, consulting services, transportation, equipment and training of administrators covering range of topics, such as administration, planning, budgeting, fiduciary activities, safeguards and monitoring and reporting on project implementation.