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7 Forest planning and management

Forest planning is a planned intervention to alter or maintain the forest dynamics for providing sustained flow of good and services to satisfy the desired objectives in an efficient manner. Practice of planning in forestry in Sri Lanka has a long history. The efficiency of forest planning depends on clarity of the objectives and mission, and precise assessment of inputs and outputs. Sri Lanka has achieved this with development of its Forestry Sector Master Plan of 1995. This chapter provides a general and brief view of forest planning and detailed information on selected issues.

7.1 General

Sri Lanka has a good system of forest planning. Ministry of Forestry and Environment (MOFE) has identified its mission and to achieve its mission the MOFE has its set objectives and priorities in forestry. The first priority is to set aside forests for conservation, wherever it is necessary. The next priority is to manage the remaining forests for meeting the domestic demand for wood and non-wood products and other services. The government is now emphasizing involvement of non-state sector in all forestry development activities, and empowering people and rural communities to manage and protect multiple-use forests.

7.2 Main problems

Sri Lanka faces a wide range of environmental management challenges that are tied to its economic development (SYDP, 1998). These challenges emanate from high population density, unemployment, deforestation, and pollution etc. in the country. The issues in the forestry and environment sectors are linked very closely with the national development and are inseparable. Future trends in these sectors are centered on increase of population, poverty, nature of the economy, trade liberalization etc.

FSMP, 1995 has identified and quantified a strong link between population, deforestation and forest degradation In Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's population is increasing at a rate of 1.2 percent a year and more than 20 percent of the population lives in absolute poverty and one-third of families receive poverty alleviation grants. Agricultural production in Sri Lanka is increasing mainly due to extensive rather than intensive agricultural practices for satisfying increasing demands of its growing population. This is leading to decline in the area under forest cover.

Despite past and continuing forest conservation efforts, there is still net deforestation, with severe implications for the environment, leading to long run adverse effect on the welfare of the rural people, agricultural and other inter-linked sectors, and the country as a whole. Among the poor, women tend to suffer disproportionately from environmental degradation, as they are traditionally responsible for collecting water and fuelwood, cooking and other domestic work.

7.3 National forest policy

Sri Lanka has developed its National Forest Policy (NFP) on the basis of its Forest Sector Master Plan with following main objectives,

To achieve these objectives, NFP provides policy guidelines for management of state and private forest resources. The main features of these guidelines for state owned forest resources include the following,

Similarly, the policy guidelines for privately owned forests and trees state that,

Apart from these, the NFP has very specific guidelines for "wood and non-wood forest products, industries and marketing", "institutional support for forestry development including NGO", "inter-sectoral linkages", and "international forestry related conventions". In addition to statement of such policy guidelines, the NFP provides strategies for their implementation.

7.4 Forest planning process

Sri Lanka follows a systematic forest planning process and FSMP, 1995 provides a sound basis for this purpose. FRMP, 1995 has analyzed past information to identify trends and projected scenarios of landuse and production under alternative feasible management regimes. It is actually a Policy Planning document for next 25 years. The Ministry of Forestry and Environment (MOFE) and the Forest Department have utilized this document (FRMP, 1995) to develop, enact and adopt a new National Forest Policy in 1995 itself.

The MOFE has also identified its national mission as to "provide leadership to manage the environment, in order to ensure national commitment for sustainable development for the benefit of the present and future generations" (SYDP, 1998). To achieve its mission the MOFE has set the following objectives:

The government has also clearly set its priority in forestry. The first priority is to set aside forests for conservation, wherever it is necessary. The next priority is to manage the remaining forests for meeting the domestic demand for wood and non-wood products and other services. To achieve this, the GOSL is emphasizing involvement of non-state sector in all forestry development activities, and empowering people and rural communities to manage and protect multiple-use forests. The non-state sector means the private sector, NGOs, village based organizations, and communities or even certain individuals interested in being involved in environment and forestry related activities.

Therefore, forest planning addresses two main areas for sustainable development of forest resources.

(a) Conservation of remaining natural forests primarily for bio-diversity and watershed protection and for other environmental services.

(b) Development of forest plantations and non-forest wood resources to satisfy national requirements.

The forest department develops a Five year Implementation Programme (FYIP, 1997) to translate the FSMP, 1995 proposals into action in accordance with the National Forest Policy, 1995 and current management plans. The forest department develops annual macro and micro level "Work Plans" to implement the FYIP. The annual work levels are based on the actual availability of financial resources in that particular year. All this planning is done centrally by experienced foresters at the national headquarters of forest department in consultation with field staff. The GOSL has recently changed the National Planning period from five years to six years. MOFE has accordingly developed a Six Year Development Programme (SYDP) from 1999-2004.

The MOFE follows a consultative planning process for each of its two agencies (Forest Department and Central Environmental Authority) for the development of SYDP. To achieve this, the MOFE first develops a framework for the joint consultative planning based on the guidelines provided by the National Planning Department of Sri Lanka. The MOFE also identifies main thrust or priority areas including its components, activities and sub-activities like the following:

The MOFE then constitutes different working groups to estimate the financial resources required for each activity with detailed breakdown into capital and recurrent expenditures and work targets for the period of SYDP and to draft the SYDP. The draft SYDP is presented, discussed and modified in a participatory consultative manner in different meetings chaired by the Secretary, MOFE.

The final SYDP takes into account the resource availability and needs of both the public and private sector for implementing the plan. This becomes important because GOSL has taken decision to allow private sector to play a major role in forestry development activities including; forest plantation development, forest plantation management, harvesting and extraction. Further, the private sector is a major partner in pollution control, waste management, green house gas reduction etc. Therefore, it becomes necessary to include the anticipated contribution of the private sector in the forestry and environmental fields during the plan period. In addition to this, the SYDP mentions the contribution of the households in increasing and maintaining the tree cover.

7.5 Forestry and five year plans

FSMP, 1995 recognized the complexity of forest planning and its inter-linkages with other sectors of the economy and therefore, provided for an integrated planning model for forest sector. MOFE is following the direction contained in FSMP, 1995 and ensures that Forest Department considers all provisions of Five Year Implementation Programme (FYIP) and Six year Development Programme (SYDP) to implement various provisions of NFP, 1995.

The NFP and the FSMP emphasize on obtaining participation of the non-state sector in all forestry development activities. The MOFE and FD have initiated several activities for this purpose like the extraction of resin from pine plantations is currently being carried out with the non-state sector participation, where nearly 4,000 ha are leased for resin tapping and 8,000 ha will be leased soon. Apart from this over 11,000 ha of degraded land in the dry zone will be leased on a long-term basis for reforestation. The response received so far for this scheme has been very encouraging, which shows the interest of the people in becoming partners in forest developmental activities. Depending on the progress, this scheme will be improved and expanded in the future.

Plans are also underway for leasing of forest plantations for management to the non-state sector. Initially leasing will be carried out on a pilot basis where small extents will be leased for management, extraction and reforestation by the non-state sector. The forest Department will provide technical advice and guidance to the private sector engaged in these activities and will also closely monitor the progress. Preliminary estimates reveal that the investments from the non-state sector for the above mentioned activities would be in the range of over Rs. 200 million.

7.6 Forest management plans

In the past, the forests were used for hunting wild animals, grazing by village cattle, gathering wild fruit, and extracting timber for domestic use and revenue. In some villages, especially in the dry zone, there was little rice cultivation, and people depended on the home gardens and forests for their livelihood. In 1840, the government appropriated ownership of most of the forest land in Sri Lanka by enacting legislation and since then scientific management and planning of public forests is under government control.

The GOSL took a major initiative in early 1990s to develop its FSMP. It is an integrated long-term forest management plan and provides direction and guidelines for short-term and annual planning. It was prepared at national level through a participatory approach. Its emphasis is on identifying and analyzing major sectoral issues, defining sectoral objectives and strategies, and developing alternative scenarios. The FSMP helps in formulation of "Five Year Implementation Plan" (FYIP), which in turn provide basis to design annual work plans. The FYIP consists of following five components with forest conservation as its main component.

7.6.1 Forest Conservation Management

The purpose of the Forest Conservation Management component of FYIP is to maintain and enhance biodiversity, soil and water resources, while fostering sustainable use of resources. This purpose is consistent with the national, as well as present international policies on conservation. The main strategy adopted to conserve natural forests is to establish a national forestry estate and to create a protective area system. This includes the categorization or zoning and mapping of existing forests and the preparation and implementation of management plans.

7.6.2 Forest Land Allocation and Macro Level Zoning

GOSL considers that an important pre-requisite for the sustenance of forest resources is to establish a National Forest Estate (NFE) classified into two main categories (Conservation and Multiple Use) having its own broad management objectives.

These conservation forests set aside for conservation of bio-diversity or soil and water resources are further sub-divided into two classes (Class I and Class II). The class I conservation forests are fully conserved and only approved research and controlled visiting rights are be permitted. In the class II conservation forests, in addition to approved research and visiting rights, controlled extraction of Non Wood Forest Products is also permitted.

The forests other than conservation forests are managed as Multiple Use Forests for Production purposes. The production forests are further classified into two categories (Class III, and Class IV). The Class III forests are managed by the State, and Class IV by local communities with the assistance of the State. The chief strategy is to increase tree cover and the productivity of forests and forest plantations.

The forest areas outside NFE are classified as class V forests and the GOSL plans to provide assistance to increase the tree cover and productivity in this class of forests. The social forestry and agro-forestry and extension component of the FYIP attempts to support Class V forests.

7.6.3 Multiple Use Management of Natural Forests

The aim of the multiple use management of natural forests component is to produce a mixture of products and services on a sustainable basis to meet the needs of a range of clients, preferably rural poor. To achieve this, the GOSL is attempting to develop participatory forest planning and management procedures and appropriate forest management plans based on experiences from a limited number of pilot sites (initially 6) with a total of 12 forest management plans prepared during the 5 year period.

7.6.4 Commercial Forest Plantation Development

The commercial plantation development component has a purpose to increase tree cover and sustainable production of commercial forest products and services. The strategy during to FYIP is to increase private investment in plantation establishment and management of existing plantation initially on a pilot basis, and bringing all potentially commercial plantations under productive management through an autonomous body. The GOSL proposes to establish 20,000 ha. of new plantations within next 5 years with the involvement of private sector and to increase the current production of 35,000 m3 of sawlogs to 150,000 m3 during next five years. For new plantation management, scheme for leasing suitable state lands on long leases to private individuals and companies is already under consideration of the government following the principles enunciated in the National Forestry Policy, 1995.

7.6.5 Social Forestry and Agroforestry and Extension

The "social forestry and agroforestry and extension" component has the purpose to establish a network of "sustainable and productive social forestry" in home gardens and unutilized public lands. These resources currently satisfy more than 50 percent of the total bio-energy demand and about 41 percent demand for the sawn logs. The FYIP suggests the strategy for developing institutional capacity to provide more efficient extension support to implement social forestry programs based on experience being generated by testing sustainable models (developed during the program period) in limited pilot sites (initially 100 villages). Currently, the government proposes to extend this component to additional 600 villages and also desires to create favorable conditions for marketing and land tenure for possible further expansion of activities in near future.

7.7 Micro or local level planning

FSMP, 1995 clearly directs that "In the future, mechanisms have to be developed for introducing bottom-up planning at the implementation stage, and feedback from implementation at local level to be integrated into National level planning". In practice, the forest department attempts bottom up local planning approach for participatory or locally managed multiple use forestry only. It follows the centralized and functional model of spatial and temporal forest planning for state or commercially managed production forestry and develops the FYIP, the plantation management plans, and the district level annual work plans at the national level.

7.8 Forestry organization

The Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, and Forestry look after the forest sector. The ministry has four main divisions (Planning Division, Forestry Planning Unit (FPU), Forestry and Environment Division, and Land Use Policy Planning Division) that deal with forestry sector. The Planning Division ensures that the plans produced in the ministry are in line with the national and ministerial policies, helps in identifying sources of funds, and looks after environmental impact assessments. The Forestry Planning Unit (FPU) unit is headed by a Director and assisted by many deputy directors. It coordinates and implements long-term sectoral plans like FSMP, development plans, and overviews the use of funds. The FPU is also responsible for sectoral policy formulation together with the Forestry and Environment Division. At present, long-term sectoral planning is mainly based on projects. The Land Use Policy Planning Division plays the key role in land-use policy planning at national, provincial and district levels, land alienation and reforms, zoning, and leasing.

The Forestry and Environment Division is responsible for regulating and coordinating activities and matters related to forestry and the environment and conservation. It reviews and drafts legislation. The division covers the Forest Department, State Trading Corporation (STC) and to some extent the FPU. The functions of this division and the FPU overlap especially when it comes to policy planning and coordination.

Three different departments look after the forest, wildlife, and environment. Each is under separate ministry and has its own mandate but there are many fields in which their functions overlap with each other. The following provides a brief description about the forest department, the department of wild life conservation, the State Trading Corporation, other ministries related to forest and environment, and important forestry actors in non-government sector like farmers, estate and NGOs.

7.8.1 Forest Department (FD)

The FD is responsible for managing the forest area under its jurisdiction, which includes production forests (both natural and plantation forests) and protection areas. The FD is also responsible for extension and research. The main mission of the FD has been the production of wood (for the state) on state lands and protection of forests but recently, environmental conservation has emerged as one of its central functions. Increased emphasis on conservation has been a positive development, but at the same time it has meant that there are now two major government agencies (FD and Department of Wild Life Conservation) responsible for nature conservation and protected-area management with some overlapping functions between them.

A Conservator of Forests leads the Sri Lankan Forest Department with the support of three Additional Conservators responsible for research, operations, and administration and personnel. The Additional Conservators are assisted by Deputy Conservators who are directly responsible for the various sections at the headquarters like Operations, Silviculture, Forest Inventory and Management, Environmental Management, Extension and Education, Planning and Monitoring Enforcement, and Protection and Legal Enforcement. In addition, there is a personnel, administration and finance division to ensure that all FD activities are in accordance with the government's administrative and financial regulations.

Most of the operations are carried out in the field through 18 Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) in charge of 18 divisions, comprising of 68 ranges and 341 forest beats. The field staff uses more than 50% of their time on legal enforcement activities, and on granting and monitoring the use of various permits.

Forestry research is done through two research stations under Forestry Research Division (former Research Branch). This division also looks after "Forest library" and "Forestry Information Service". The national importance and coverage of forestry research is declining and at present the research serves a limited number of beneficiaries.

7.8.2 Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC)

The DWLC is responsible for the conservation of wildlife in the areas under its jurisdiction. It was part of the Ministry of Forestry and Irrigation till late 1994, when it was transferred to the Ministry of Public Administration, Local Government, Plantation Industries and Parliamentary Affairs. Thus forestry and wildlife are now separated from each other through their allocations to different ministries. A Director who is assisted by an additional director and five deputy directors head the department. The deputy directors are responsible for management, administration, field operations, research and training, and promotions.

The filed operations wing of the DWLC is responsible for the operation and management of the National Parks, Strict Natural Reserves, Natural Reserves, Jungle Corridors and Sanctuaries, and for the enforcement of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. It covers the country through five regions, each under an Assistant Director. The DWLC has to balance the two main but opposite complex tasks (a) to provide services to people by conserving and managing the resource base, and (b) try to conserve the resource base by excluding people from the protected areas.

7.8.3 State Timber Corporation (STC)

The STC is a government corporation that looks after the procurement and sale of logs mainly from the state-owned forests, and production and sale of sawn wood and furniture. Government has entrusted STC with some additional functions like import of timber, afforestation, forest management and agricultural production. However, it has not yet engaged itself in the last two functions. It operates nine sawmills, five impregnation plants, two furniture factories, two mechanical workshops and 42 wood depots. The STC is not a major producer and its importance as a wood supplier is small in relation to the total consumption.

7.8.4 Other ministries and government bodies related to forestry and wildlife

The Ministry of Transport, Highways, Environment and Women's Affairs and its Central Environmental Authority are responsible for the development; enforcement and monitoring of environmental policy and legislation and coordinating environmental impact assessments. Provincial and local governments are not much involved in forestry activities. Local authorities are involved to some extent through participatory forestry activities.

7.8.5 Non-state sector

More than 200 other NGOs are directly or indirectly engaged in forestry related activities, though their involvement in the forestry sector is not yet institutionalized. Farmers and other small-scale tree growers are very important because they are the most important producers and consumers of timber and bio-energy in Sri Lanka. However their contribution has not been institutionalized to receive support from forestry organizations in adopting sustainable natural forest management and utilization practices.

A Wildlife Trust has been created in 1991, with the participation of the government, NGOs and the private sector, to complement and facilitate the implementation of those aspects of wildlife policy in which the DWLC may be impeded or delayed. A major objective of the Trust is the conservation and enhancement of natural heritage by enhancing opportunities for public and private investment in the conservation and enjoyment of these resources.

Rubber estates are one of the major producers of timber and fuelwood while tea estates (industry) are the main (industrial) consumer of fuelwood in Sri Lanka. The Tea estates have yet not utilized their potential in form of land and technology to contribute to timber and fuelwood production.

7.9 Summary

Sri Lanka faces a wide range of environmental management challenges that emanate from high population density, unemployment, deforestation, and pollution etc. in the country. Despite the past and present forest conservation efforts, there is still net deforestation, with severe implications for the country as a whole. Three different departments look after the forest, wildlife, and environment. Each is under separate ministry and has its own mandate but there are many fields in which their functions overlap with each other.

Sri Lanka has a long history of forest planning and has identified its mission, objectives and priorities in forestry. The first priority of the Sri Lanka is to set aside forests for conservation and second is sustainable management of the remaining forests for meeting the domestic demand for wood and non-wood products and other services. The government is currently emphasizing involvement of the private sector in all forestry development activities, and "empowerment and participation" of local people and rural communities to manage and protect multiple-use forests.

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