The journey for Rainforest Alliance certification commenced in 2012 on Dambatenne Estate, Haputale, where initially it qualified for a group certification with Pitaratmalie and Beauvais Estates.
The Manager of Dambatenne Estate was D.R. Madena (presently the Director of the Uva region) and under his leadership it was able to establish excellent standards to fulfill all rainforest audit requirements. Since then the good work continues with the new General Manager H.M.S. Kahatapitiya and further improvements have been acknowledged.
The group was encouraged when on its initial audit, a Group success rating of 91% was obtained. Since then certification was obtained on Haputale and Kahagala Estates in the Haputale region, Diyagama East, Balmoral, Glasgow, Holmwood and New Portmore Estates in the Agras region and Yuillefield, Drayton, Craigielea, Stonycliff and Derryclare Estates in the Kotagala region.
The fact that all these plantations RA audits recorded a success rating over 90% is an indication of the commitment and dedication of the senior executives, staff and workers of these 15 plantations, the standard of work done, results achieved and commitment a worthy cause.
At successive audits, it was informed that by adhering to RA values, the concept of Rainforest Alliance has now become a ‘way of life’ of the staff workers and executives on these plantations. This resulted in the main body of the Rainforest Alliance selecting Dambatenne to visit and obtain firsthand information and ascertain as to how this concept is effectively practiced. The Executive Vice President of the Rainforest Alliance visited Dambatenne Estate on 12 August where the RA delegation expressed appreciation, regarding the standards maintained and the results achieved.
Plantation companies in Sri Lanka have been quick to realise that especially in the production and sale of tea, which is classified as a food beverage, at the point of sale carry a certification like Rainforest Alliance, if it is to be accepted on the shelves of food stores, hotels, etc.
The endorsement made in the tea weekly catalogue indicates that the tea buyers will be reluctant to make a purchase of an individual Garden Mark on its standing alone but with the accompanied certified attestation.We have now arrived at a stage where each Garden Mark is called upon to carry evidence of such certification, if it is to remain in business. The parameters of RA certification demand mandatory major and minor conformities improvement in many indicators relating to the significant protection and enhancement of the environment.
The tea plantations of Agarapatana and Kotagala Plantation Companies have undertaken initiatives such as inventory of biodiversity on estates recording animal sighting, raising awareness amongst the staff and workers of the estate community in the establishment of non chemical and buffer zones around water bodies, periodical checking of water quality including waste water that finds its way into major water ways. Reduction of the chemical usage even below stipulated standards with special training, detail inventory of agro chemical usage with training of agro chemical handlers, implementation of a well-organised integrated waste management system and a well defined sustainable environmental management.
Making a tangible contribution to boost national efforts aimed at protecting areas including stream reservations and natural forests with action taken to support growth in biodiversity. For instance, increase in the tree canopy and crop diversification has led to growth of different types of habitat conducive to different species accompanied by biodiversity protection measures. The Rainforest Alliance is a growing network of farmers, foresters, environmentalists, economists, scientists and businesses dedicated to conserve biodiversity and ensuring a sustainable livelihood.
The organisational logo of Rainforest Alliance certification features a green-frog. The green-frog is a Rainforest alliance certification seal and it indicates that a farm forest or any other agricultural enterprise has been audited to meet the demanding environmental and social standards.
The RA certified seal is found on food and beverages in restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, airlines around the world and it gives the customer the satisfaction and assurance that the product to be consumed has been audited to meet requisite standards.