Key projects

IUCN Sri Lanka and Holcim Lanka Partnership


IUCN entered into a five-year partnership with Holcim for biodiversity conservation globally. Under this global agreement, IUCN Sri Lanka has forged a country level partnership to develop long-term ecosystem conservation standards for Holcim Lanka, contributing to sector-wide improvements in the cement and related sectors.

In recent years, the Holcim Group initiated a pro-active environmental policy worldwide, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The company stimulates conservation of biodiversity, both in and outside its quarries and concession sites. In order to translate this policy into actions and promote biodiversity conservation in Sri Lanka, a five year partnership was initiated between Holcim Lanka and IUCN Sri Lanka, in 2007. Under this partnership, IUCN Sri Lanka with its overall objective of biodiversity conservation, assists the Holcim Group to design and implement effective biodiversity conservation actions and to train their staff.


One of the initiatives under this partnership is the project to rehabilitate the Aruwakkalu quarry site that has been degraded by the extraction of limestone for cement production. The project aims to restore the biodiversity and landscape values affected by the limestone mining operations in the Aruwakkalu quarry area, located about 25 km north of Puttalam town and bordering Portugal Bay and Wilpattu National Park.


Continuation of IUCN-Holcim partnership work related to rehabilitation of mined areas with biodiversity improvement. Following are some of the ongoing activities; 


·         Ecological survey was conducted within the Aruvakkalu quarry operation sites to understand its natural diversity.

·         Technical support to the construct artificial reef substrate near Unawatuna coral reef

·         Habitat restoration activities in old quarry areas at the Aruvakkalu quarry site and established a monitoring protocol to measure the success of the restoration

·       Ecological monitoring to assess  the recovery of restored areas, and new sample plots were establish in newly restored areas 

·       Conduct an ecological assessment of areas identified for next year quarry operations, and rescue/release of less mobile species for the mining area identified for the next year

·       Except above propgrammes, technical support was given time to time when HOLCIM Lanka need IUCN assistant in the environment conservation planning

·       Awareness programme also carried out for the quarry staff to enrich their environmental knowledge


In addition IUCN is planned to design a long term monitoring programme of artificial reef structures deployed in Unwatuna in partnership with National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA).

Enhancing the Ecological Integrity and Ecological Services of Halgolla Estate


Halgolla is a 1,196 hectare tea estate managed by the Kelani Valley Plantation PLC. It is located closer to Kithulgala area in the Sabaragamuwa province.

An initial surveys carried out by IUCN Sri Lanka in 2007 indicate that the natural and semi-natural areas of Halgolla estate function as an important repository of Sri Lanka’s biodiversity. Furthermore, the natural and semi-natural areas of the estate form the natural watershed of the Wee Oya, which is a major tributary of the Kelani River. Kelani is one of the major rivers in Sri Lanka of which the water has many consumptive and non-consumptive uses.


As a conservation action, the management of the estate has entered into a partnership with IUCN Sri Lanka to develop a management plan for the natural areas that lie within the estate premises and to improve the overall ecological integrity and watershed services of the property. As a result, IUCN Sri Lanka has designed and implement  this project to  Enhance  the Ecological Integrity and Ecological Services of Halgolla Estate. 

The key objectives of the project are;

  1. undertake studies on ecological integrity and watershed functions
  2. identification of measures for maintaining and improving the ecological integrity
  3. development of a watershed management programme, and,
  4. knowledge dissemination

Maintenance of natural habitats of Halgolla Estate within the overall framework of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), enrichment planting, soil and  water conservation measures, hydrological assessments and, development of baseline surface water quality are the collective approach of the project. Awareness programmes for stakeholders on the ecological and hydrological value of the estate are  also planned for the dissemination of the project outcomes.


Apart from the direct outcomes, the possibilities are explored to use the study results to initiate a dialogue with the downstream water users to contribute towards sustaining the watershed protection programme using the principles of payment for ecosystem services.


Dugong bi-catch survey in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has pledged its support to the long-term survival of the dugongs (Dugong dugon), often known as the ‘sea cow’ or ‘Muhudu ura’ in Sinhala, and to the protection of their critical sea grass habitats by becoming a party to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs. This Dugong MOU operates under the United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP) and Convention of Migratory Species (CMS). The Secretariat to the Dugong MOU is funded and hosted by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

Dugongs are classified as ‘Vulnerable to Extinction’ under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, which indicates that they face a high risk of extinction in the medium-term future. They are exposed to a number of threats across their range, including incidental capture in fishing nets, loss of habitat, boat collision and unsustainable hunting practices.  The IUCN rates their extinction risk as Vulnerable on a global scale. This risk is based on an inferred or suspected reduction of at least 30-50% over the last three generations (90 years; (Lawler et al. 2002). This classification describes a taxon that faces a moderate risk of extinction in the wild within 50 years (Marsh 2008). A recent report on status of dugongs throughout their range with the assistance of more than 100 experts indicated that dugong populations are declining or extinct in at least one third of its range, of unknown status in about half of its range and possibly stable in the remainder – mainly the remote coasts of the Northern Territory and Western Australia (UNEP 2002; Marsh 2008).


IUCN Sri Lanka, Turtle Conservation Project and Dilmah Conservation  carried out a by-catch survey designed and supported by UNEP-CMS  which will provide insights to further research and management actions on dugongs.


The survey was based in large part on the revised protocols developed by the Project Global Rapid By-catch Assessment ( but also drew on protocols developed at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (Thailand), at San Francisco State University (USA) and at James Cook University (Australia). The multi-disciplinary background of the panel ensured that the survey design would be widely applicable across regions and issues, scientifically thorough and sound, and culture-sensitive. The survey protocols were then reviewed by a number of social science and by catch assessment experts to determine language appropriateness and scientific rigor.


The results of the surveys can assist in determining the distribution and abundance of dugong populations, help identify and map areas of important dugong habitat such as sea grass beds, and assess the risk of, and develop measures to mitigate degradation of dugong populations and their habitat in Sri Lanka. The standardized survey protocol can also be of great benefit for comparisons within and across regions.


The Dugong Questionnaire Survey, by design, was intended as a relatively rapid process of accumulating data which addresses spatial distribution (where things are and where fishery pressure is located), and population status (how many are there, and how many were there in the past, and what sort of protection measures are in place).


Improving Natural Resource Governance for the rural poor in Sri Lanka

Improving Natural Resource Governance for Rural Poverty Reduction is a global project implemented by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with the support of Governance and Transparency Fund of UK Aid from the Department for International Development.  

The overall goal of this 5-year programme is contributing to improve natural resource governance for rural poverty reduction and its purpose is to improve livelihood security in selected countries through better environmental governance, including fair and equitable access to natural resources, new benefit sharing arrangements, and more participative and transparent decision making. It will do this by working with partners in Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and South America. The project is implemented in countries namely, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Benin, Lebanon, Syria, South Africa, Mozambique, Drylands of Africa (Kenya, Tunisia, Mali-Burkina Faso trans border area), Bolivia and Peru. The outcomes expected are improvements in institutions, in policies and in decision-making mechanisms as they relate to natural resources

Sri Lanka Component:

The project for Improving Natural Resource Governance for the rural poor in Sri Lanka is a component of the global project focuses on three main elements:

(a)     Improving governance for managing natural resources

(b)     Empowering civil society to reduce poverty and better manage natural resources

(c)     Capacity building for civil society to effectively manage natural resources

Implementation Sites

The project concentrates on four pilot sites addressing environmental governance issues in different contexts. Pilot sites are;

1.       Five villages situated in the close proximity to the Peak wilderness forest, situated in the Ratnapura

 Administrative District.

2.       The Nilgala Forest Reserve, a savanna type of a forest situated in the Monaragala Administrative District.

3.       The mangrove areas adjacent to the Puttalam Lagoon situated in the North western coastal belt in the administrative district of Puttalam.

4.       Periyakalapu lagoon in Tirukkovil in Ampara District. Main focus is on environmental justice and livelihood issues in coastal ecosystems

Implementation Modalities

Partnership with civil society organizations, community and the national, provincial and local government organizations and authorities involve in development and governance of natural resources in the project areas is a key to the implementation of this project.

The Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) and Centre for Environmental justice (CEJ) are the key partners to provide technical support to implement the project.