Enhancing Biodiversity Conservation and Sustenance of Ecosystem services in Environmentally Sensitive Areas

Lead country

Sri Lanka

Participating countries

Sri Lanka

Project status

Under implementation

Implementing period

From September 25, 2015 to October 30, 2021

SDGs addressed by this project

SDG targets

  1. 15.5 Reduce habitat degradation, halt biodiversity loss, extinction
  2. 15.9 Integrate ecosystem values into national planning
  3. 15.a Mobilize resources for biodiversity conservation, sustainable use

Project ID: 5165

*The boundaries shown and the designations used on the above map and included in lists, tables and documents on this website do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations or UNDP | References to Kosovo* shall be understood to be in the context of UN Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

Technical team

  • Ecosystems and Biodiversity Programme

Technical area(s)

  • Mainstreaming biodiversity
  • Strengthening conservation areas


  • Wildlife conservation
  • Ecosystem-based adaptation
  • Ecosystem-based mitigation


  • Conserved areas
  • Human altered areas
  • Forests


  • Specially protected areas (SPAs)
  • Urban areas
  • Rural areas
  • Tropical forests

Transformed sector(s)

  • Agriculture
  • Forestry and other land use
  • Livestock

UNDP role(s)

  • Capacity development / Technical assistance
  • Institutional mechanism and system building
  • Policy advice


  • Capacity building
  • Law regulation
  • Management operation


  • Institutional framework
  • Institutional capacity building
  • Portfolio learning
  • Mainstream
  • Advocacy (towards policy makers)
  • Laws/ Policy/ Plan formulation
  • Sustainable land management
  • Wildlife and habitat conservation
  • Ecosystem and ecosystem services conservation/restoration

Social inclusion

  • Private sector

Gender equality

  • Women's access to and control over resources
  • Livelihoods for women

Gender result effectiveness scale

  • Gender responsive


  • Systems pathway

Risk reduction target(s)

  • Reduce exposure
  • Improve resilience

SDG target(s)

  • 15.5 Reduce habitat degradation, halt biodiversity loss, extinction
  • 15.9 Integrate ecosystem values into national planning
  • 15.a Mobilize resources for biodiversity conservation, sustainable use

Conventions and protocols

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Private sector(s)


Hot topic

  • Nature-based solution

About this project


The project will render operational a new land use governance framework known as Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) as a vehicle for safeguarding globally significant biodiversity on production lands of high interest for conservation. This is important as PAs alone will not be able to secure the effective conservation of globally significant biodiversity, due in part to the high beta and gamma diversity of the country, and the fact that the PA system is not wholly representative of the country bio-geography. Moreover, the loss of habitat on production lands adjacent to PAs is leading to their progressive insularisation. Using the land use planning and management framework as the entry point, the project aims to optimize land management and ensure the compatibility of multiple land uses across landscapes designated as ESAs with biodiversity needs. Government legislation provides for the creation of ESAs but there is an unmet need (addressed through this project) to operationalise them. The project will put in place the necessary land use planning and governance frameworks, and establish compliance monitoring and enforcement systems to ensure that mechanisms for land use permitting and allocation in ESAs are configured to balance conservation and development objectives, to protect major habitat blocks and ensure structural and functional connectivity across the landscape. In this regard, it will ensure that the indirect impacts of development (e.g. impacts of roads and other infrastructure) are adequately understood and factored into decision making. ESAs will be comprise a mosaic of land uses, the most sensitive areas within which will be established as no- go areas for development. While setting up the systemic capacities to manage ESAs (plan, regulate, and enforce management prescriptions), the project will also operationalise Sri Lanka first ESA in the Kala Oya basin. Thus it will deliver immediate global benefits, while improving long term conservation prospects across the country.


To operationalize Environment Sensitive Areas (ESAs) as a mechanism for mainstreaming biodiversity management into development in areas of high conservation significance.

USD $2,726,690

Grant amount

USD $16,850,000

Leveraged amount (co-financing)


Source(s) of fund

Sources of fund


  • Global Environment Facility – Trust Fund ($2,726,690)

Implementing partner(s)

  • Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy (MERE), Sri Lanka

Project metrics

Related resources

Geospatial information

Discover relevant spatial data related to this project/country/region, powered by UN BiodiversityLab

Project reports and documentation