Habitat Restoration and Support of Livelihoods Impacted by COVID-19 through the Removal of Invasive Alien Species in the Lunugamvehera National Park

It is estimated that around 5% of the land area at the Lunugamvehera National Park is currently taken over by the invasive alien species (IAS) Lantana camara (S. Gandapana) and Eupatorium odoratum (S. Podi singho maran) which are rapidly spreading across the Park.

The extensive spread of invasive plants inhibits the growth of native plant species, thereby causing extensive loss of habitat and grazing grounds in the National Park, posing a serious threat to the elephants and other herbivore populations that are resident or visit the park and their interconnected ecological food webs.

Rapid response in preventing seed dispersal is critical in controlling the spread of any invasive alien species. Hence, the urgent action provided by the FEO is critical to remove these plants before seed generation, to facilitate the growth of native varieties. With the Lunugamvehera National Park being surrounded by communities whose livelihoods have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis, this project intends to make a positive impact by providing local communities with a steady source of income by employing villagers for the manual removal of the IAS.

 

The LEF have committed to funding the habitat restoration of 40 ha over a three-year period, thereby contributing positively both towards the health of the National Park and its surrounding communities.