Trees Used In The Tree-Planting Project

Given Sri Lanka's high level of biodiversity, SPE has an extensive selection of trees to choose from for its projects. Among these, certain trees are both endemic and threatened, making their conservation of particular importance to SPE. Consequently, SPE actively promotes the protection and preservation of such species.

Sri Lanka boasts a diverse array of flora, with over 3,210 plant species present. Of this impressive number, around 980 species are exclusive to Sri Lanka, highlighting the country's high level of endemism. The country's geography and climate have fostered the evolution of an exceptional range of flora, spanning tropical rainforests, mangroves, and dry-zone forests. This remarkable level of endemism is attributable to the country's isolation from the Indian subcontinent for more than 70 million years, providing a conducive environment for the development of unique plant species. Notably, Sri Lanka's endemic flora comprises a variety of orchids, ferns, and flowering plants, of which more than 200 are under threat due to habitat loss and degradation.

Flowering plants make up the bulk of Sri Lanka's plant species, with 3,360 species distributed across 1,350 genera and 200 families. Alarmingly, more than 200 of these plant species are threatened. Climate conditions on the island are influenced by annual rainfall and temperature, and vegetation types vary according to climate and topography.

Types of Tree to be Used in the Project

SPE is actively promoting multilayer forestry techniques to optimize land usage. Our approach involves utilizing various types of plants across different layers. In order to achieve this, careful selection of trees according to the climate zone and soil type of the location is imperative.

Multilayered Approach to Planting Trees

Canopy Layer: Large and medium size native trees, Valuable trees with high timber value.

  • Arjuna/Kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna)

  • Mee/Mahua (Madhuca longifolia)

  • Indian Beech (Millettia pinnata)

  • Albizia/Maara. (Albizia lebbeck)

  • Jack fruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)

  • Mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni)

  • Tamarind (Tamarindus Indica)

  • Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis)

  • Champaca (Magnolia champaca)

Middle Layer/Tree Layer: Small to medium-sized. Fruit-bearing trees, Commercial crops

  • Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum)

  • Garcinia (Garcinia zeylanica)

  • Margosa (azadirachta indica)

  • Pepper (Piper nigrum) as climbers

  • Passion fruits (Passiflora edulis) as climbers

Sub Tree Layer: Taller than a human

  • Orchid flower tree. (Bauhinia sp)

  • Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea)

  • Taro root (Colocasia esculenta)

Techniques Used to Maximize Land Use

A zig-zag pattern will be employed for the arrangement of plants, as opposed to a linear configuration. Additionally, a combination of plants will be utilized in our planting locations. This approach will enable us to cultivate 1500-2000 plants per acre. It is noteworthy that all computations are predicated on a density of 1500 plants per acre.

SPE's multilayer afforestation approach aims to optimize land usage by incorporating a large canopy layer and medium-sized tree layer to provide shade and reduce atmospheric temperature. Additionally, a subtree layer and shrub layer consisting of commercial crops generate income. This approach creates a dense forest cover, which reduces groundwater evaporation and purifies groundwater, particularly with the planting of Kumbuk (Arjuna)/Terminalia arjuna trees along rivers and tanks. Trees such as Mee (Mahua) provide food for fruit bats, whose droppings supply rich fertilizers. Other trees, such as Tamarind and Indian beech, enrich the soil with nitrogen through their symbiotic root systems, while Jackfruit provides high-value food and timber and has significant medicinal value.

The feasibility study conducted by the University of Moratuwa investigates the potential for improving water quality using medicinal plants, specifically Terminalia arjuna, and the economic benefits associated with this approach.

SPE prioritizes planting large trees with the highest carbon sequestration potential, but short and mid-term high-yield revenue-generation crops have also been included in the project to provide income for local communities. Trees with high timber value, such as Teak and Mahogany, are also part of the project and serve as an investment for the community.

Use of Beehives

The SPE initiative encompasses the implementation of "Beehives" to achieve several advantages, including:

  • Improves productivity of crops by increased pollination. Direct contribution to food security.

  • Offer protection against crop diseases and pests.

  • Keep wild elephants away from plantations.

  • Additional income from Bee honey production.

Food Security and Sustainability

SPE places great importance on food security and sustainability as a means to combat the projected food crisis. To achieve this goal, the following key food security indicators are taken into consideration:

  • Affordability: Crops used are with high yield and affordable.

  • Availability: Crops are allocated to the local community.

  • Quality & Safety: SPE always maintain quality and safety in all processes.

  • Natural Factors: Environmental and natural factors are considered when handling food crops.

Moreover, SPE initiatives generate both direct and indirect employment opportunities for the local community, creating additional sources of income and enhancing their spending capacity. This enables individuals to afford food without difficulty, ultimately contributing to the attainment of food security goals.


One of the primary objectives of the tree planting initiative is to replenish the ground water levels in the Jaffna peninsula and provide potable water. In this regard, SPE's multilayer tree planting project can offer significant support by facilitating underground water recharge through multiple means. Firstly, the roots of the trees create fissures in the soil, enabling water to infiltrate deeper into the ground. Secondly, by intercepting rainfall and slowing down the movement of water across the land, the trees minimize surface runoff, allowing more water to seep into the soil and replenish underground aquifers. Thirdly, the trees facilitate the regulation of the local water cycle by releasing moisture into the atmosphere through transpiration, ultimately leading to increased rainfall in the area and supporting the renewal of underground water resources. All in all, a well-conceived multilayer tree planting project can enhance water availability and quality, demonstrating its efficacy as an approach to promote sustainable water management.

SPE has included Kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna) trees in our multilayer tree planting projects. The University of Moratuwa conducted a feasibility study to explore the potential for using medicinal plants, specifically Terminalia arjuna, to improve water quality and the associated economic benefits.The study aimed to investigate the possibility of water purification using Terminalia arjuna and found a trend of reducing Cadmium concentration with an increase in Terminalia arjuna plant coverage in the surroundings.

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