Bio Diversity

BIO DIVERSITY

Kelani Valley Plantations PLC (KVPL) and Talawakelle Tea Estates PLC (TTEL) have been actively working to protect the fauna and flora on all its estates over the last decade, with detailed biodiversity surveys of all its estates being carried out by its scientists from 2008.

The bio diversity surveys carried out within our TTEL estates reveal that there are over 220 faunal species, both vertebrates and invertebrates living within our estates. The TTEL estates are also habitats to over 140 species that are categorized as endangered, threatened and vulnerable species as per IUCN Red Data list published in 2012.

All TTEL estates are located in the Hill Country wet-zone and Low Country wet-zone which are regions with the highest forest cover and bio diversity and regulates climate and rainfall in the wet-zone. Origins of important watersheds, catchment areas feeding national rivers- Nilwala, Gin, Kotmale Oya, and Nanuoya are within TTEL estates.

On Halgolle estate specifically which consists of ~1,200 hectares, researchers have even gone to the extent of placing camera traps to record nocturnal species. Halgolle is indeed a remarkable haven for biodiversity. The estate has four divisions viz., Wewelthalawa, Halgolle, Punugala and Ullswater. The estate has diversity in its elevation, with the lower reaches at 90 feet above mean sea level, rising to the upper divisions at 4,000 feet. Thus, boasting its impressive biodiversity in both fauna and flora.

Known in Sinhala as 'Rathu Mihiriya' or 'Rath Mihiriya', Gordonia speciosa is one of four Gordonia species in Sri Lanka, all of which are endemic to the country, the others being G. ceylanica, G. dassanayakei, and G.elliptica. All four varieties are rare, found only in the montane forests of the highlands, with G. speciosa being the most difficult to find.

Gordonia speciosa is an evergreen tree, with flowers of up to 15cm in diameter. The tree requires a high level of rainfall, proved by the fact it has only been found in such areas. The flower contains five petals, as with other species of Gordonia found in Sri Lanka. From the brilliant flower, G. speciosa produces a fruit, a little smaller than the size of a human hand. The tree grows up to 80 feet in height and is scattered across the Wewelthalawa Plain on the mountain top, above a height of 2,800 feet. Individual trees flower at different times of the year, which means that the flowers are never out of season. The flowers last about two weeks, after which the trees does not flower again for several months.

The Wewelthalawa Division, at 3,000-4,000 feet, is a perfect picture of virgin forest swathed in mist, brilliantly green tea fields and marshy land, from which spring perennial streams that flow off the mountain to join the Wee Oya, a main tributary of the Kelani River which falls into the Sea at Colombo. 'Olu Ela' chief amongst the many streams cascades from the mountain top as the breathtaking 'Olu Falls'. Olu Falls, at 200 meters in height is the fifth highest in the Kelani River Basin, and also the Kelani River Basin.

Halfway down these hillsides lie the tea fields of Halgolle Estate, while above and all around them are thickly forested areas in which lurk leopards, sambur, jackals and many other creatures. Halgolla estate is generally classified as a low country tea state due to its factory being at a lower elevation, despite the main tea fields being located between 2,800 and 4,000 feet.

Halgolle is home to more than 200 faunal species which includes 16 endangered and 49 threatened species. It is also home to 27 endemic floral species and six that are listed as threatened among its 167 identified species.

Our plantation companies partners with multinational, government and non-governmental organisations and schools to improve the bio diversity inherited by the companies. Many tributaries to the island`s major rivers stems from the KVPL and TTEL estates. Hence, preserving and improving water quality by targeting zero tolerance in pollution is our aim. Our initiatives have been recognized internationally as denoted under 'Our Credentials'.

Source: Excerpts from Bio Diversity Sri Lanka publication- 'Worth Protecting'