Healthy Landscapes

This project aims to improve the nutrition, health and overall being of cascade communities, while also strengthening the restoration and sustainable management of VTCS, for the enhanced provision of ecosystem services and protection of biodiversity.

Poor agricultural and unsustainable land management practices are negatively impacting biodiversity and degrading ecosystems in Sri Lanka. Specifically at risk is the Village Tank Cascade System (VTCS) - an ancient, man-made water management system unique to the country’s Dry Zone. While the VTCS’s primary service is the storage of rainfall to enable year-round paddy cultivation, there are several others. Limited understanding of the multiple and varied functions of the VTCS and continual overexploitation of its known services has led to the degradation of these complex landscapes. 

The Healthy Landscapes project aims to strengthen the restoration and sustainable management of VTCS for the enhanced provision of ecosystem services and protection of biodiversity. Using an integrated land management approach, the project will address many of the negative downstream human health challenges that have arisen rapidly in the Dry Zone over recent decades, while also strengthening food and nutrition security, adaptability and resilience. 

Key activities

1) Renovating existing VCTS: Developing, validating and promoting VTCS management practices that enable the use of its natural resources, to meet changing human needs, while minimizing pressures on the environment and preserving the renewal capacity of its ecosystem services. 

2) Improving knowledge, information management, monitoring and evaluation: Reviewing new knowledge, information and data arising from the project and finding effective and innovative ways to package it and make it available to multiple end-users. 

3) Building partnerships, raising awareness and building capacity: Improving the evidence base, awareness and capacity related to the sustainable management of the VTCS and its ecology, across all levels of stakeholders. 

4) Strengthening policy to support VTCS:  Engaging key partner institutions, local organizations and communities to build and strengthen the institutional arrangements that can guide the development of improved policies and actions to manage VTCS 

Project brief

The ancient invention critical to daily life

Funders and Partners

Funder: Global Environment Facility (GEF) 

Other partners: 

  • Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment,  
  • Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka,  
  • Ministry of Agriculture,  
  • Department of Agriculture,  
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 
  • South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP)