SLYCAN Trust together with the Ecosystem Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP) under the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation, and supported by the World Bank, conducted a dialogue on ‘Integrating Sustainable Landscape Management into Local Planning Processes’ on the 28th of June. This virtual event aimed at building awareness and enhancing outreach activities related to land-use management and landscape planning in the country.
Speaking at the event, Additional Secretary (Development) to the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation Ms. Samanthi Ranasinghe said, ‘The theme of this discussion is timely and important as we are moving forward with our development agenda while natural ecosystems are in a critical state. […] Climate change impacts have worsened the current state of our ecosystems. Therefore, utilization of land resources for various development purposes needs to be planned with due respect to the natural ecosystems – this is the concept behind landscape management planning all over the world. We are happy that ESCAMP has taken the leadership in this for Sri Lanka, and we commend SLYCAN Trust for joining ESCAMP in taking this initiative forward.’
Her speech was followed by a lively panel discussion attended by several experts from the stakeholder group. The panel consisted of: Project Director of ESCAMP, Mr. Anura Sathurusinghe; Chairman of the National Expert Committee on Climate Change Adaptation under the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Ranjith Punyawardena; Professor Emeritus of Geography of the University of Peradeniya, Anoja Wickramasinghe; Acting Deputy Director General of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Dr. Prasad Jayasuriya; Senior Lecturer of the University of Moratuwa, Dr. Thusitha Sugathapala; Chairman of the Governing Council of Sri Lanka Accreditation Board, Dr. Sampath Wahala; and Executive Director of SLYCAN Trust, Ms. Vositha Wijenayake
While Dr. Punyawardena highlighted the importance of effective use of land through a participatory and inclusive approach with all the stakeholders onboard to provide sustainable ecosystem services to the public, Prof. Wickramasinghe focused on gender dynamics and traditional management structures of natural resource use. During the discussion, Dr. Sugathapla drew attention to the importance of aligning land management plans with the SDGs where wellbeing of the environment should be considered as the key element. Dr. Jayasuriya contributed to the conversation by providing the angle of the tourism industry in incorporating and delivering ecosystem services and land management through already functioning systems while Dr. Wahala focused on the potential of developing standards nationally to ensure that the country adhered to recommended global models of utilizing land and other natural resources.
Executive Director of SLYCAN Trust, Ms. Vositha Wijenayake, stated that SLYCAN Trust aims to identify entry points where the organisation could contribute to scaling up resilience-building activities related to biodiversity and vulnerable communities. She added: ‘SLYCAN Trust’s work related to climate and disaster risk management, conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity, and the integration of Sri Lanka’s climate-related commitments into local planning processes aims to develop pilot ground-level activities that build on landscape management plans developed by ESCAMP for the Hurulu-Kawudulla-Kanthale area across the districts of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee. As part of this initiative, SLYCAN Trust together with ESCAMP launched this discussion to spread awareness and enhance outreach on the thematic area’.
The virtual event informed the participants on aspects related to resilient, sustainable, healthy, climate- and nature-friendly development. The participants were given an overall understanding of the importance and the need for holistic landscape management plans; the integration of climate and disaster risk as well as sustainable development into planning processes; economic empowerment, livelihood development, and stakeholder-driven actions; the application of economic diversification and livelihood enhancement; multi-actor partnerships for implementation of actions; and effective stakeholder engagement and sustained implementation of activities.