In this report the authors aim to assess and evaluate historic and current changes in land use and forestry at the national and sub-national level in Sri Lanka. Different drivers, policies and data related to forest and land use are assessed to explore factors that have contributed to changes.
These are the main conclusions of the report:
Historically, much of the deforestation was planned by the government for agricultural expansion, timber extraction and development projects. If the objectives of the current forestry policy are to be met, participatory forest management is key, combined with a multi-stake holder approach also involving ministries concerned with land-use planning and agriculture in order to account for all direct and indirect factors influencing land-use and forest cover change.
For the future, regulations need to be strengthened and new laws have to be introduced to keep the legislations up to date and to meet changing needs. The general trend since 1983 has been a decline in tobacco, rubber and tea along with forest, mainly due to decline in profitability. A continued decline of these crops in favor of more profitable cash crops, such as peppers or cashew is to be expected depending on current demands on domestic and international markets.
As shown here Sri Lanka has limited forest data for establishing an accurate and equitable reference level. There is however a high mitigation potential in the national forestry sector and low overall contribution to emissions. Given these preconditions, REDD+ can have a role to play 18 for Sri Lanka and experiences from the ongoing readiness process can be transferred to other countries of similar size and natural conditions.
New information from the nationwide forest cover assessment in 2011 will most likely provide more detailed data to better estimate the forest change and the drivers of change. This can in turn be used to study opportunities, barriers, costs, revenues and reference levels for a possible REDD+ system.
The fact that 81 percent of the forest area is actually naturally regenerated forests and that the general trend is a declining deforestation rate highlights that the dimension of sustainable forest management and conservation included in the REDD+ could be more suitable for Sri Lanka in their aspiration to participate in the future REDD+ process.
Authors and Publishers
Rickard Näsström & Eskil Mattsson
Focali (Forest, Climate, and Livelihood research network) is a Swedish research network focusing on forest / bio-energy, climate change and poverty issues. Several Swedish universities and institutions are represented in the network. The purpose is to contribute to the provision of relevant knowledge to Sida and other Swedish authorities for the effective use of forest operations to achieve climate-poverty targets. Focali also aims to increase the flow of relevant information between scientists, industry, government and civil society.