Forest Landscape Restoration experience of HSBC volunteers in Sri Lanka
The Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), a global bank, has worked with IUCN since 2010 on different initiatives. The latest is the ‘Climate-Smart Opportunities through Restoration and Education (CORE)’ project in Sri Lanka commenced in 2021 to address both climate change and poverty issues through degraded land restoration and education. Volunteers from the company have played a key role in the project. For their first activity with IUCN this year, the HSBC volunteers participated in tree planting and collecting seeds of native plants to restore degraded land.
The event took place between 20 and 21 July 2023 at Thuppitiyawa in Sri Lanka's Anuradhapura district. Aside from providing financial support, HSBC places an emphasis on getting their staff actively engaged in project activities, giving them hands-on experience and a chance to immerse themselves in and directly observe on-ground activities.
Under the supervision of IUCN experts, thirteen volunteers from the bank had the opportunity to work with and learn from the local community on tree planting, seed collection, as well as sorting and processing. The volunteers successfully planted over 100 plants from six species: Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Helamba (Mitragyna parvifolia), Ma Dan (Syzygium cumini), Bulu (Terminalia bellirica) and Kaluwara (Diospyros ebenum) in a specially designed plot.
The volunteers then walked around the restoration site to identify and collect seeds, which were then sorted, processed, and potted in a collaborative effort involving HSBC volunteers, IUCN experts, retired forest officers and local community members. The volunteers' learning experience extended to a village visit, where they witnessed firsthand how the project supported food forest gardening, climate-resilient animal husbandry, and sustainable land management while promoting Nature-based Solutions (NbS).
“We are very happy with the transformation that has been achieved compared to its previous state. It is like the concepts we read in books are manifesting in the real world,” noted Ms Geethika Jeyaraj, a repeat observer of the project from HSBC.
Overall, the CORE project aims to restore 25 hectares of land under the Forest Department using the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) tool and to increase green cover across 100 hectares, countering farming disruptions and environmental degradation in Thuppitiyawa within the broad farmwork of Nature-based Solutions (NbS). Modelling carbon trading is also a significant project component. HSBC, IUCN, and the Forest Department of Sri Lanka are joining hands with communities towards forest landscape restoration, showcasing the power of innovative collaborations and Public-Private-People Partnerships (PPPs) to transform degraded landscapes into thriving ecosystems while simultaneously uplifting the lives of neighbouring communities.