Home gardens in Sri Lanka offer a highly diversified and economically viable form of land use. They produce a variety of products such as food, fruits, medicine, spices, fuelwood and timber.
There are more than 300 different woody species in home gardens and 120 of these species are common. Traditionally, coconut, jak and mango were common species. In the recent past, species composition has changed with the inclusion of commercially valuable exotic timber species such as teak, mahogany, alstonia, albizzia and eucalyptus. These five species are among the top 10 species in the order of frequency of occurrence and account for 15 percent of the total number of trees recorded in the assessment. They produce over 40 percent of the total timber volume.
The most important tree species found in home gardens in terms of producing food and timber are well distributed across the climatic zones. Twenty-two such species are distributed in excess of 50 percent of the land area. The majority of tree species, especially the ones that are grown traditionally, has more trees in lower diameter classes showing the sustainable nature of home gardens.
A conservative estimate shows that home gardens are capable of producing over 1.3 million m3 of industrial timber and fuelwood, which represents 41 percent of the national demand for industrial timber and 26 percent of the biofuel demand.
The findings of this assessment provide the basis for reviewing the current restrictions on the transport of certain timber species. The data on availability and distribution of different species in geographical areas could be used to devise an effective system to facilitate timber transport.
The assessment shows trends rather than accurate figures due to the nature and intensity of data collection. The findings, however, provide the basis for more accurate assessments especially with the use of current technology such as satellite image interpretation.