With experts estimating that around 5% of the land area at the Lunugamvehera National Park being currently taken over by the invasive alien species (IAS) – Lantana camara (S. Gandapana) and Eupatorium odoratum (S. Podi singho maran), a conservation intervention was necessary in order to stop the rapid spreading across the National Park.
The extensive spread of IAS 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 and the on-going economic crisis, this project is making 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 hectares over a three-year period, thereby contributing positively both towards the health of the National Park and its surrounding communities. This project is entering into its second year and has been thus far responsible for the IAS removal of approximately 450 hectares.