Freeing the land of the tea lecagcy – the case of Wild Flower Holdings

Freeing the land of the tea lecagcy - the case of Wild Flower Holdings

wca2014-2177 Kamal Melvani 1,* 1Managing Director, Neo Synthesis Research Centre, Sri Lanka, Kotte, Sri Lanka

The restoration of Wild Flower Holdings (WFHL) is currently underway in the Deltota Valley in Sri Lanka. This biodiversity rich montane forest area is the watershed of the Maha Oya and where tea was first planted. The Valley is extremely wind swept and dry for much of the year. More than a century later it has lost most of its forest cover, soil and is an unproductive environment.

One and a half years ago, Neo Synthesis Research Centre partnered with WFHL to carry out the ambitious rehabilitation of this landholding. They adopted a landscape approach to rehabilitation. Since this was a commercial land holding the landscape design had to address ecological needs and be economically viable.

The Loolecondera forest, the closest natural forest in the area was first visited to understand its architectural structure and species composition. This information provided the blueprint for rehabilitation. Thereafter, the WHFL landholding was surveyed and sectioned into zones for rehabilitation based on the ecological function they played in the landscape. GIS mapping was undertaken and special emphasis was placed on hydrology since water drained into a large wetland area.

The landscape design adopted a different ‘treatment’ for each of these zones. Areas that had once been planted with tea and were severely eroded were first planted with hedgerows along the contours. In between the hedgerows Cinnamon and Coffee were inter planted with native species. The design varied depending on the wind direction and intensity. In the lower parts of the property subject to less wind damage, other tree crops were planted.

Native shrubs and small and large trees were planted in the riparian zone around the lake and alongside the streams. Bamboo sp. was used in areas prone to erosion.

The land around the house was planted with several ornamental species and an extensive organic vegetable garden.

This experiment may offer the solution to restore vast areas of unproductive tea land.

Vigyan Bhavan & Kempinski Ambience

10 - 14 February 2014 Delhi, India