“Cinnamon Rainforest Restoration Project” Launched – Lanka Business Online

Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts has proudly launched its latest sustainability initiative, “Cinnamon Rainforest Restoration Project” in collaboration with Ruk Rakaganno (The Tree Society of Sri Lanka), Forest Department Sri Lanka and John Keells Foundation, to restore degraded land of 50 acres over a period of three years after which nature will resume the process of regeneration. Natural forest regrowth is increasingly seen as a viable solution to global climate change and this project heralds the dawn of a new era in the enrichment of Sri Lanka’s biodiversity in a sense of emergency.

Dushy Perera, President of Ruk Rakaganno said, “Popularly known as ‘Ruk Raks’ (tree protectors), our ultimate goal of this collaboration is to restore 50 acres of degraded land in Sri Lanka’s wetland located in the Sinharaja buffer zone. Tropical forest. We are grateful to the John Keells Foundation for funding this impending initiative and for partnering with us on this groundbreaking project.

The 50-acre site is located in the Ratnapura district, within a 3.5 kilometer proximity to the biodiversity hotspot and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sinharaja Forest Reserve, one of the few remaining virgins in the country. The restoration and reforestation of this 50 acre site will further enrich the ecological significance of the area which also consists of numerous waterfalls and places of cultural and religious significance. The “Cinnamon Rainforest Restoration Project” provides a timely model for corporate institutions working with government organizations and NGOs to conserve biodiversity.

Commenting on the pioneering project, Chitral Jayatilake, Head of Nature Trails, said, “One of the goals of the project is to engage guests of Cinnamon properties by inviting them to be part of the Cinnamon Nature Trails tour at the site of the project, where they can learn about the project to feel a sense of belonging. This innovative project plans to reclaim forest land that will preserve the region’s endemic flora and fauna while paving the way for other such reforestation projects across the country.

The project also plans to encourage employee volunteering to remove invasive plants and prepare the ground so it is ready for planting. Speaking on behalf of the John Keells Foundation, Carmeline Jayasuriya, Head of CSR, said: “We are delighted to be part of this collective mission to conserve the critical ecosystems around the Sinharaja Forest. Beyond our funding commitment, we plan to actively involve John Keells Group staff volunteers and the community in removing invasive plants, preparing soil and planting trees that will add value. to the project and will also bring personal fulfillment by being part of a sustainable reforestation effort.

As part of the project’s engagement plans, guests at Cinnamon properties will be escorted by a trained naturalist to the site who will show them around and explain the objectives of the project. Guests wishing to plant a tree will be able to do so in a pre-selected location, supporting the cost of each plant as a donation to the project, while labeling the plant in a way that connects the planter to the tree to allow monitoring the evolution of the tree over the years.

Vimukthi Weeratunga, project leader and team biologist, added: “Sri Lanka is already seeing an influx of tourists with the easing of travel restrictions and slowly increasing international tourism. We are delighted to bring interested guests to witness the project firsthand. I am proud to lead a team of qualified and passionate biologists who have the success of this project at heart.

The Cinnamon Rainforest Project is an initiative implemented by Ruk Rakaganno (The Tree Society of Sri Lanka) in partnership with the Forest Department Sri Lanka and Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, in memory of former President of Ruk Rekaganno, the late Mrs. Kamani Meedeniya Vitarana. The project is sponsored by the John Keells Foundation and aims to restore 50 acres of degraded land in Sri Lanka’s wetlands by March 2024, to create a sanctuary to safeguard and preserve biodiversity for future generations.

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