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Student thesis: Tropical deforestation in Sri Lanka - A Minor Field Study investigating the impact of small scale farmers

Student thesis: Tropical deforestation in Sri Lanka - A Minor Field Study investigating the impact of small scale farmers

Sara Lindström, student at Department of Earth Science at University of Gothenburg, has written her student thesis about small scale farmers impact on the natural forest cover extent in Sri Lanka.

Abstract:
This study analyzes small scale farmers impact on the natural forest cover extent in the Kanneliya Forest Reserve and Knuckles Conservation Forest in Sri Lanka, by focusing on the farmers land use practices since the end of the 1980’s. Some of the methods used for the analysis are structured and semi-structured interviews carried out in Sri Lanka, and remote sensing followed by mappings in GIS.
 The study confirms that many rural people are dependent upon several recourses provided by surrounding natural forests, primarily for subsistence reasons. Agriculture is the most common source of income in both study areas and there is a clear link between local land use and diminishing forests on the island. Profit-bringing crops of high demand on the domestic and international market are most frequently grown among farmers and have caused the biggest threat to the forests.
Over the last two decades the Kanneliya Forest Reserve has been badly affected by deforestation, particularly due to expanding tea plantations. The case of Knuckles Conservation Forest on the other hand demonstrates an overall increase in forest cover. This can partly be explained by the fact that cardamom, a widely cultivated profit-bringing crop in the area only leads to forest degradation rather than a complete clearance of forest. Further, governmental tree plantations, a ban of shifting cultivation and emigration from the area followed by natural forest regeneration are factors used to explain the situation in the Knuckles.
Legislations and clear demarcations around the reserves have proved successful in the conservation of remaining forests on the island. However, as long as root causes such as poverty in combination with a shortage of land is ignored by stakeholders, people are likely to continue to put pressure on the natural forests of Sri Lanka.

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Stepping up Swedish action on tropical deforestation - Dialogue on International Day of Forests

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