SRI LANKA’S BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AT A CROSSROADS | Sunday Observer

SRI LANKA’S BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AT A CROSSROADS

The monthly Lecture of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society will be held at the Jasmine Hall, BMICH on September 20, at 6 pm.

The survival and persistence of Sri Lanka’s biodiversity is at the crossroads. Our conservation priorities, approaches, and strategies are stuck in the 20th Century; we are still relying on conservation paradigms, thought processes and ideas from the 1940s and 50s. Meantime, the world is changing and passing us by. Ecosystems are dynamic, and conservation has to adapt. Misaligned priorities have to be rectified. Conservation strategies must accommodate this change, and change with them. But, the custodians tasked with the conservation of Sri Lanka’s biodiversity have been unable to meet these challenges. There is a distinct and serious lack of will, skill, fortitude, and innovative thinking. They are also hamstrung and hampered by poor, and even corrupt political leadership. In the meantime, threats are mounting; they are too many, too extensive, intensive, and too urgent.We have to address them now, but in a strategic, visionary manner. We have to adopt new paradigms to address the current, emerging, and projected threats. And, we have to focus on priorities. All this would require a paradigm shift that would enable Sri Lanka to reconcile biodiversity conservation with development, set goals, and develop a conservation strategy for the 22nd Century. Such an approach would have to look beyond our fondness for elephants and leopards, to also prioritize Sri Lanka’s irreplaceable biodiversity, ecosystem processes and services, and engage a much wider range of conservation stakeholders than the current custodians. It would require building strategies based on principles of conservation science, and developing innovative, visionary strategies. There is no time for vacillation.

Dr. Eric Wikramanayake is a Conservation Biologist with over 25 years of experience throughout Asia, working on landscape-scale spatial planning for the conservation of endangered large mammals in Asia, ecosystem-based approaches to reducing climate change vulnerabilities, and assessing e-flows.

He was a senior conservation scientist with the World Wildlife Fund, a Research Fellow with the Smithsonian Institution, Senior Strategic Advisor with the Biodiversity and Wildlife Program at RESOLVE, and consultant conservation advisor to ADB’s GMS-BCC project. He is the current Chair of the Environmental Foundation, Ltd (EFL), in Sri Lanka.

The Wildlife and Nature Protection Society Monthly Lecture is open to all members and non-members, admission is free of charge.

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