In collaboration with Ruk Rakaganno (The Tree Society of Sri Lanka), Forest Department Sri Lanka, and John Kells Foundation, Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts proudly launched its latest sustainability initiative, “Cinnamon Rainforest Restoration Project”, to bring back a degraded 50-acre land over a period of three years after which nature will take over the restoration procedure. Natural forest regeneration is progressively being viewed as a feasible climate change solution worldwide and this project signals the dawn of a new age in improving Sri Lanka’s biodiversity instantly.
President of Ruk Rakagano, Dushy Perera said, “Famously known as “Ruk Raks” (Tree Protectors) our final goal of this project is to rehabilitate 50 acres of degraded land in the wet sector of Sri Lanka located in the neutral zone of the Sinharaja Rainforest. We are thankful to John Keells Foundation for financing this impending initiative and collaborating with us on this innovative project”.
The 50-acre land is located in the Ratnapura District, in a vicinity of 3.5 kilometers from the biodiversity hotspot and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, one of the handful virgin forests left in the country. Bringing back and reforesting this 50-acre land will additionally improve the ecological significance of the area which also comprises several waterfalls and sites of cultural and religious importance. The “Cinnamon Rainforest Restoration Project” offers a convenient role model for corporate organizations working with government firms and NGOs to preserve biodiversity.
Speaking on the ground-breaking project, Head of Nature Trails, Chitral Jayatilake stated, “One of the goals of the project is to attract guests at Cinnamon hotels by welcoming them to be part of Cinnamon Nature Trails tour to the project location, where they can discover more about the project to feel a sense of ownership. This revolutionary project anticipates getting back forest land that will conserve the native flora and fauna in the region while also making way for several more reforestation projects across the country”.
The project also foresees inspiring employee volunteerism to remove invasive plants and get the ground soil ready for planting. Commenting on behalf of John Keels Foundation, Head of CSR, Carmeline Jayasuriya said, “We are happy to be a part of this joint mission of preserving critical ecosystems around Sinharaja Forest. Beyond our financial obligation, we plan to diligently engage staff volunteers of John Keells Group and the community in getting rid of invasive plants, preparing the ground soil, and planting trees which will add merit to the project and also bring individual achievements in being a part of a viable reforestation effort.”
As part of the project’s engagement plan, guests from Cinnamon properties will be led by an expert naturalist at the location who will show them around and explain the purpose of the project. Guests who want to plant a tree will be able to do so at a pre-chosen location, bearing the cost of each plant as a contribution towards the project, while also tagging the plant in a manner that connects the planter to the tree to enable observation of the tree’s progression over the years.
Adding further, Vimukthi Weeratunga – Project Head & Team Biologist stated, “Sri Lanka is already seeing an increase of tourists with the easing of travel restrictions and international tourism gradually rising. We are happy to bring interested guests to witness the project directly. I am proud to lead a team of professional, eager biologists who are devoted to the success of this project.”
The Cinnamon Rainforest project is an initiative executed by Ruk Rakaganno (The Tree Society of Sri Lanka) in collaboration with the Forest Department of Sri Lanka and Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, in remembrance of the earlier president of Ruk Rekaganno, late Mrs. Kamani Meedeniya Vitarana. The project is sponsored by John Keells Foundation and the goal is to rehabilitate 50 acres of degraded land in the wet zone of Sri Lanka by March 2024, in order to produce a sanctuary to protect and conserve the biodiversity for future generations.
Photo – Panel Discussion (from L to R) Deputy Conservator of Forest, Forest Department of Sri Lanka – Nishantha Edirisinghe, President, Ruk Rakaganno – Dushy Perera, Vice President, John Keells Holdings & Head of Nature Trails – Chitral Jayatilake, Head of CSR, John Keells Holdings – Carmeline Jayasuriya and COO and Deputy CEO, Cinnamon Hotel & Resorts – Hishan Singhawansa.