The Center for Sustainability
Who we are…
The Center for Sustainability is a body for professional environmental services, research and extension attached to the Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
CFS is a faculty-directed organization that supports the broader efforts of DFES to ensure environmental protection and sustainable development in the country through productive University-Industry linkages and partnerships.
Being the first one of its kind to be established at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, the CFS is committed to produce a new breed of responsible stewards of environment through promoting the concept of sustainability among corporate sector, general public, university academia and students, primarily through professional support, education and awareness.
Backed by a renowned panel of environmental experts with proven track records at the DFES, the CFS provide wide array of environmental solutions for the corporate sector.
To become recognized as the leading scientific organization affiliated to a state University in Sri Lanka, dedicated to develop and disseminate knowledge and practice of sustainability, and contribute actively to the sustainable development of the country.
To promote the concept of sustainability among corporate sector, general public, university academia and students primarily through professional support, education, awareness and extension and help producing responsible leaders of environmental stewardship.
- Professional Training & Capacity Building
- Environmental Consultancy Services
- Environmental Impact Assessment & Baseline studies
- Environment Extension and Outreach Programmes
- Research & Development
Our Ongoing projects
1. Yagirala Forest Research and Conservation Education Center –The center of excellence in tropical biodiversity research & conservation education
Yagirala Forest Reserve is an ideal place to experience the peace, quiet and diversity of life a Lowland Tropical Wet Evergreen Forest offers. The Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura has been managing a 100 acre block of the Yagirala Forest Reserve since 1984 and recently another 260 acres taken, predominantly for forest restoration activities, research and education purposes.
The Department of Forestry and Environmental Science of the university of Sri Jayewardenepura has built a research center in the Yagirala forest reserve to facilitate the persons who have research and education interest about this forest. This bunglow type venue is also used as the Visitor Center for the people who stay overnight who prefer to experience the life in the rain forest with the hospitality of the villagers in the area.
Forest inventory, Mensuration, Forest Management, Wildlife management practices are conducted in this forest for the university student and also training and environmental education sessions are held for the school students. The area of 5,908 ha has been halves since 1971 due to exploitation, but thankfully, remedial action is underway, which includes the increased growth of aquatic plants to enhance the relative protection of stream and bank vegetation. It is on record that 45% of the plant species at this reserve are endemic to Sri Lanka. The university of Sri Jayewardenepura has been entrusted with the task of turning the Yagirala Forest into a high benefit reserve once again.
What they think about our conservation education programs: Testimonials
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2. Restoration of 400 ha in Wanniyagama Beat of Wanniyagama Reserved Forest
As a leading higher education institute and a pioneer in environmental education
in Sri Lanka, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura has recognized the importance of being acc
ountable for the environmental impacts of its daily operations. The Center for Sustainability of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, USJ in collaboration with the Forest Department and the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment has launched a novel project to make USJ the first “Carbon neutral” university in Sri Lanka.
In collaboration with the Forest Department and the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, a carbon sink will be created by the restoration of 400 ha of degraded dry mixed evergreen forest owned by the Forest Department in Wanniyagama, Puttalam. In a time frame where deforestation and loss of biodiversity have become a major issue in Sri Lanka, there is an urgent need to combat deforestation and habitat loss, for the sustainable management of Sri Lanka’s forest resources. The government aims to increase the forest cover in the country from 29% to 32% by 2030. This forest regeneration program in Wanniyagama will contribute to the national forest cover of Sri Lanka while fulfilling the ultimate goal of neutralizing the carbon emissions of USJ.
3. Ittapana Mangrove Resource Center (IMRC)
Using the recently received mangrove land in Ittapana area, CFS has established a Mangrove resource center to support mangrove based rural communities and also to facilitate climate-adaptive livelihood development. In Sri Lanka, Mangroves are one of the most threatened ecosystems that people have no or poor understanding about its sustainable economic value. IMRC will provide support for sustainable mangrove management, alternative income generation in salt-affected lands. In here, the center will be involved in economic activities such as mangrove-based food and beverage processing industry, reed, and handy craft industry, alternative crop cultivating in salt-affected lands, carbon trading, eco-tourism and etc. Moreover, IMRC will be involved in research and development sector by mangrove gene banking and utilization for medicine production, establishing fish conservation and breeding center, mangrove base new product innovation and market creation, alternative crop identification for salt-affected coastal lands. Furthermore, this center will facilitate field education with accommodation for national and international students, who are interested in mangrove ecosystem functions and its fauna and flora.
Background of the project
An alumnus of USJ, Dr. B.M.S. Batagoda has donated a 2.1 acre mangrove-dominated land to USJ which is located in Ittapana, Walallawita district secretariat division, located adjacent to Bentota river to establish a mangrove ecosystem resource center. The land includes building that used as mangrove based rural economy uplifting project hub. That project had been involved in mangrove-based food and beverage Processing industry, reeds and wood based traditional handicraft industry, and nature trail facility provision for ecotourism. Once these businesses were quite profitable and well managed. However, eventually project went out of business due to improper monitoring and lack of management. Recently Dr. B.M.S. Batagoda found about Center For Sustainability, University of Sri Jayewardenepura and impressed with the work CFS has been doing over the years and decided to donate this land to the university in order to establish a scientifically managed mangrove resource center.
Ittapana-Horawala thotupola mangrove forest
Ittapana-Horawala thotupola mangrove forest is located next to the Bentota river; as previously mentioned this is part of Bentota river mangrove complex which is considered as one of the most threatened mangrove complexes in the island. Most of these forests are manged by Forest department and rest are private lands. These mangrove ecosystems have lots of ecosystem services including flood hazard control, groundwater refill, act as breeding ground for fishes, act as reservoir of biodiversity, carbon secretions and many more. In addition to that, this mangrove forest can generate lots of economic benefits which can contribute to uplift surrounding rural population in Ittapana and Horawala areas and also to the country’s economy. Though, these mangrove ecosystems have capacity to generate lots of economic and ecosystem values, there is a deficit in proper management and scientific knowledge base. As a body of scientific knowledge and state of art environment related sustainable technical support providing organization, CFS is planning to implement a project in order to increase knowledge on sustainable mangrove ecosystem management and explore unutilized resources in this mangrove ecosystem while enhancing its ecological values and empowering the local community.
Through this project There are four major problems to be addressed and they are; inadequate financial assistance for rehabilitation of mangroves; inadequate awareness among all stakeholders on the importance of nonextractive uses of mangroves; inadequate knowledge on suitable floral species, composition/diversity and density to be used for restoration of mangrove vegetation; lack of alternatives to communities who depend on mangroves for socioeconomic activities and poor coordination among stakeholders when rapid unsustainable development programmes are undertaken in mangrove areas.
This center includes
- Mangrove ecological function monitoring and research center in order to conduct studies on mangrove ecosystem-based studies
The major expectation of this monitoring center is to study and improve the knowledge based on mangrove ecosystem as one of the major lacking parts of sustainable mangrove conservation in Sri Lanka is Proper scientific Knowledge base. This center will be facilitate studies such as Biodiversity monitoring, Carbon fixation monitoring, Temporal Ecosystem changes monitoring, Biogeochemical cycles monitoring and etc.
2. Education center for other stakeholders
In order to educate about ecological functions of mangroves; education portal will be created for other stakeholders. through that education portal below activities will be facilitated.
- Training and awareness programs on mangrove conservation for university students and local communities
- Restoration of Degraded mangrove land
- Knowledge development on sustainable fishing and mangrove-based resource exploitation practices
- Development of coastal and mangrove ecosystem based economic instrument for mangrove conservation
3. Industrial scale, scientifically managed, Soneratia based drink and jam processing unit.
in order to create value for unutilized soneratia fruit. In here several job opportunities will be created for persons in local mangrove community. Further, the degraded lands will be restored with Soneratia and other mangrove species in order to rehabilitate the habitat and generate sustainable income.
4. Sustainably managed industrial scale reed and mangrove-based handicraft processing center.
This will generate job opportunities to the local communities and eventually create new ventures. In order to generate reed for this business, previously existed and degraded reed habitats will be restored and available reed resources extraction will be done in sustainable manner. Moreover, this reed land restoration will be done maintaining the natural composition of reeds existed in the area and this will automatically conserve the vanishing unique reed species from the wetlands. Eventually this action will help to protect the faunal diversity especially fish and bird diversity in the mangrove habitat.
5. Food center for mangrove-based traditional food and beverages.
In here the traditional mangrove-based food will be processed and send to the customers. Through this business mangrove based rural food culture will be protected while generating income for the rural communities.
6. Center for long term monitoring and conservation of mangrove biodiversity
Since the Bentota river mangrove complex is the most threatened mangrove complex in the island it is very important to rehabilitate and conserve this unique ecosystem. In order to do so this center will be promoted as the focal point. In this center below activities will be facilitated.
- Establishing arboretum for re-generate and conserve mangrove plant species
- Establishing fish breeding center for threatened mangrove fish species conservation
- Provide bird watching facilities for conservation studies
- Periodic biodiversity monitoring facilities provision
7. Scientifically curated ecolodges and nature trails for Promotion of scientifically managed eco-tourism
One of the main problems that the Bentota mangrove complex facing is that the un regulated non-eco-friendly tourism. However, when look in to the modern-day tourism in the word it is obvious that eco-tourism has very good demand from all around the world. As an oceanic island, Sri Lanka has lots of un identified eco-tourism opportunities especially in mangrove dominating areas. If authorities can facilitate communities around the mangroves to capitalize these opportunities destructive exploitation of mangrove ecosystems will be stopped while uplifting the rural and county economy. what should be done to achieve this task is showing them how to capitalize such eco-tourism opportunities and helping them to open up their businesses to the world. In order to demonstrate how to capitalize mangrove based eco-tourism opportunities and create door to that business below activities expected to be done.
- Bird watching
- Conservation based catch and release angling
- Environment friendly Kayaking and boat trips
4. Pangolin Conservation Project
The Pangolin Conservation Project was initiated by the Biodiversity and Sustainability Research Group of the Department of forestry and Environmental Science in 2014. The primary focus of the project is to protect Indian Pangolin Manis crassicaudata from poaching and over-hunting. Pangolin Conservation Project has three focal areas:
The Pangolin Conservation Project operates based on the Yagirala Conservation Education Center of the Center for Sustainability, located in the Yagirala Forest Reserve; a tropical lowland rainforest in the south-west of Sri Lanka.
What we are trying to achieve
The project has several long-term and short-term objectives
- Gather information on the behaviour and ecology of Indian Pangolin
- Population and territory sizes in specific regions
- Prey preferences and feeding habits
- Population structure
- Revile the genetic structure of the Indian pangolin living in Sri Lanka
Manis crassicaudata is reportedly of variable abundance in Sri Lanka, but nowhere common. The species is rarely observed due to its secretive, solitary, and nocturnal habits. Pangolin flesh is considered a delicacy by local hunters and as a result of excessive hunting, it has been almost eliminated in areas where it strays into contact with people.
Very few studies have examined wild populations of Asiatic Pangolin species elsewhere and, there’s virtually no information available in literature on populations, behaviour and ecology of M. crassicaudata in Sri Lanka. This lack of reliable information has impaired the accurate assessment of their conservation needs. Considering their high vulnerability and deficiency of population data, some researchers suggests that pangolins should receive more conservation priority.
Yagirala Forest Reserve (Kalutara District) over the years has been a favorable habitat for M. crassicaudata with rather regular observations of direct and indirect evidences for the presence of this species. However, at present, the species has become very much rare most likely due to excessive hunting. A recent focal interview survey of local community and field observational records at Ygirala Conservation Education Center of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura confirm this observation. Hence, the proposed research attempts to estimate the distribution and abundance of M. crassicaudata in a tropical lowland forest and the research will generate invaluable information on abundance, ecology and behaviour of M. crassicaudata, which are vital in conservation planning for this species.
Except that several researches were performed covering the whole island.
The specific aims and objectives are as follows:
- Estimate the distribution and population size of the Indian pangolin in Yagirala FR
- Determine the daily activity pattern of Indian pangolin
- Study the behaviour and ecology of Indian pangolin
- Compile data for long-term monitoring of Indian pangolin in Yagirala FR
- Identify major threats for conservation of Indian pangolin
- Provide a comprehensive morphological description of the Indian pangolin occurring in Sri Lanka with special reference to scale characteristics.
- Assess suitability of morphometric characteristics as an ageing tool for Indian pangolin during their growth period and to provide preliminary baseline data for the Indian pangolin populations in Sri Lanka.
- Evaluate the feasibility of using scale types and their frequencies to estimate the stock size of Indian pangolin scale seizures
- Discover the evolutionary relationship between Pangolin species in Sri Lanka and Indian Pangolin species in Other Asian countries; India, Pakistan from the produced molecular data in the present study will be compared with the molecular data of other Asian pangolin species and phylogenetic trees will be constructed to address the genetic diversity of different pangolin species found in the South Asian Region.
- Study the connection of taxonomical features with their molecular data morphological traits (description of body proportions, hair, scale, and claw patterns) of pangolins of Sri Lankan will be compared with Indian pangolin found in other countries.
- First time in Sri Lanka, we attempted to address the molecular identification of Indian Pangolin from scales seized under the wildlife offence case and its application in wildlife forensics and to frame a conservation action plan and strategies for Pangolin conservation in Sri Lanka.
Camera trapping: Camera traps are effective for studying biodiversity, ecology, population estimations and behaviour, and generating activity and spatial distribution patterns of mammals. This method is particular efficient to detect elusive or rare species such as Pangolins. It collects data day and night in a more consistent way than any other traditional methods. The resulting photographs also provide undeniable records, allowing a rapid assessment of the conservation status of the species in question. This study will utilize automatic IR triggered cameras stationed in Yagirala FR, covering different habitat types. Different methods will be used to estimate the density for comparison purposes and to determine the best approach.
GPS/radio-tracking: The potential for radio-tracking wild-caught pangolins to monitor home-range size and habitat utilization has been demonstrated by previous works. We are using a combination of radio-telemetry and infrared-triggered camera traps to study the home range, activity cycle and den usage Pangolin.
Genetic study: Pangolin scales and scales from court cases and local hunters will be collected from identified mammal zones of Sri Lanka and collected scales. Then DNA analysis done for 3 mitochondrial genes (COI, Cyt-b, D-loop)
Dr. Priyan Perera
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science
University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
Prof. Nihal Dayawansa
Department of Zoology,
University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
Mr. Hasitha Karawita
Forestry and Environmental Science
University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
Mr. Hirusha Randimal
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science
University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
5. Restoration and Sustainable Redevelopment of Diyasaru Wetland Park Ecosystem, Thalawathugoda, Sri Jayewardenepura
This project is funded by the UNDP GEF Small Grants Program. The Center for Sustainability is implementing the proposed project in Diyasaru wetland. Diyasaru wetland is considered as an important marshland ecosystem located in Colombo for hydrological, ecological and economic functions thus needs to be restored to enhance its wetland functions in an adequate manner. This natural ecosystem has been affected by the spread of invasive wetland plant species. Currently waste water from neighboring lands are released to the lakes and canal systems surrounding the wetland and this has increased the nutrient contents in the water as well as increasing the pollutant loading. To understand the water quality of both surface and ground water at a landscape level, it is necessary to carry out periodical testing of water quality.
The restoration of Diyasaru urban wetland ecosystem will be highly important for urban biodiversity conservation. The location has been identified as one of the important habitats for fishing cat, which is a vulnerable species recorded in Sri Lanka and several other mammal species. The restored wetland will provide valuable breeding, foraging and roosting cover specifically for native and migratory water birds. Improved conditions in the wetlands will benefit other fauna including freshwater fish, reptiles, amphibians, odonates, butterflies and small mammals. Habitat restoration will further increase the buffering capacity of the wetland, and thus facilitating flood retention. Such environmental benefits extend beyond boundaries of the project area.
Diyasaru urban wetland park is currently managed by the Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation (SLLDC), but needs immediate attention in managing it using a scientific approach to restore the wetland functionality while conserving the biodiversity. Hence, the proposed project is designed to restore the urban wetland park through community participation while providing numerous environmental, social, and economic benefits to a broader community.