Biodiversity plan for Moragahakanda and Kalu Ganga agriculture

Project type
Project status

Project title: Implementation of the biodiversity action plan of the Moragahakanda agricultural development project and the Kalu Ganga Reservoir and agricultural extension project

Location: Moragahakanda, Sri Lanka

Duration: 2012 - 2014

Project Background: Sri Lanka’s Moragahakanda agriculture project was designed to harvest water from Amban Ganga and Kalu Ganga, two tributaries of Mahaweli Ganga, with the construction of two reservoirs. It resulted in establishment of two new settlements – the right bank and left bank settlements as well as the development of a road network and other necessary facilities.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) related to this large-scale infrastructure project recommended a range of mitigation activities to conserve and manage natural resources impacted by the project activities. These impacts include loss of habitat for terrestrial wildlife including the disruption of the movement patterns of wide ranging species such as elephants and ungulates. As a result, project activities were expected to increase human-wildlife conflicts resulting in death and injury to humans and wildlife as well as loss of crops and property. In addition, significant potential loss of threatened and endemic species, unique habitats and disturbance to migratory paths were also expected.

Upon the request of the Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka (MASL), IUCN designed and implemented a biodiversity action plan to asses and address the impacts of the project on biodiversity.

Objectives of the project: The objective of the project was to study and prepare a plan to mitigate the impacts of the two reservoirs on biodiversity. Activities included:

  • Preparing an action plan for the translocation of species
  • Implementing biodiversity action plan
  • Species rescue and species translocation
  • Preparing voucher specimens for the herbarium and museum
  • Translocation and transplanting of priority species
  • Preparing GIS-based maps on translocation sites
  • Producing a video and photo collection
  • Involving national agencies to help conserve genetically important species
  • Monitoring of transplanted flora, and preparation of a monitoring protocol
  • Protecting the unique swamp habitat Kiriamma Ulpata
  • Providing recommendations and guidelines for e-flows, fish ladders and the introduction of exotic fish species into the reservoirs
  • Preparation of detailed plan for Phase II of the project
  • Documenting ethno-biological knowledge and  conducting an ethno-biological survey in the area


  • Action plan for Phase I, including a mass animal translocation protocol, produced
  • Translocation of a total of 916 plants belonging to 58 species (monitoring revealed 84% survival rate of transplanted species)
  • Rescue and translocation of a total of 2,414 individuals belonging to 46 faunal species (fish and other species)
  • Eighty faunal species and 202 floral species were identified based on local ethno-biological knowledge
  • National organisations gathered in preserving and creating ex-situ conservation of specimens
  • Awareness programmes implemented
  • Detailed translocation plan for the Phase II produced
  • Detail biodiversity report and recommendations on Kiriamma Ulpata swamp habitat produced

Donor: Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka

Partners: Forest Department; Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC); National Botanical Gardens; National Herbarium; Department of National Museums; National Zoological Gardens; and Plant Genetic Research Centre (PGRC)