Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Challenges faced by the private sector in establishing teak plantations in Sri Lanka

Challenges faced by the private sector in establishing eak plantations in Sri Lanka

Abstract of a seminar presentation

Prabhani Jayasekara

Teak was introduced to Sri Lanka in 17th century by Dutch. It was widely planted in dry and intermediate zones after 1950s. Teak has a long history of systematic management. The earliest Teak plantations in Sri Lanka are traced back to the late seventeenth century. Teak planting, which was once mainly the domain of government forest departments, is today attracting the interest of the private sector. The private sector has taken advantage of technical developments has succeeded in attracting private individuals to invest in teak.

Many private companies involve in Teak planting in Sri Lanka such as:

Forestree Investments limited - a subsidiary of Access Group of Companies

Sadaharitha Plantations Limited

HELP GRRN “Wanasarana” Teak Plantation Project

Green Vision Lanka Private Limited

In Sri Lanka first private sector large scale commercially managed teak plantation was started by Help Green (Pvt) Ltd in 1998 with a unit which is equivalent to a land extent of 41.6 perches with 100 teak trees.

The expected final harvest of the private forest plantations are much shorter than that of the Forest Department plantations and therefore very high financial inputs are necessary to uplift such plantation conditions.

Among the major challenges faced by the private sector in establishing teak plantations, land unavailability, social issues, environmental issues, lack of scientific information and research, management problems and unforeseen catastrophes (insects, pests, animal damages, weeds, and uncontrolled fires) become prominent. Quality of timber cut from private sector plantations will also be a major issue because timber cut from old teak trees which grow slowly in natural forests is more durable and harder and teak from young trees grown in plantations may be more prone to splitting and water damage.

The private sector Teak planters have successfully identified many of the above mentioned challenges and they have taken actions in order to avoid economic loss which can be caused due to those issues.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Challenges faced in establishing khaya plantations in Sri Lanka

Challenges faced by the Forest Department in establishing khaya plantations in Sri Lanka
Abstract of a seminar presentation
Benica Jayasekara

Khaya senegalensis is the scientific name for khaya, which belongs to the Family Meliaceae. It is commonly known as African mahogany or dry zone mahogany. It’s a fast growing tree species in dry conditions and grows up to 20-30m in height. Timber of khaya is hard, dense and reddish brown in colour.

Khaya is one of the major timber species used by the Forest Department in reforestation programs in dry and intermediate zones of Sri Lanka. It was introduced from Africa during 1960’s. However, most of the khaya plantations of Sri Lanka are less than 10 years old.

The reasons for the use of Khaya by the Forest Department is the high demand for timber, fast growth rates in dry and intermediate zones, tolerance to poor site quality and resistance to heavy weed competition, harsh conditions and diseases and pests (except borer). Moreover the rural community prefers khaya over teak because khaya is morphologically more similar to the native species in Sri Lanka. In addition to those, wild elephants do not damage khaya trees.

According to the Forest Department, khaya was selected as the best tree species for the dry zone. There are however, a few challenges faced by the Forest Department in establishment of khaya plantations. Expensive seeds, low seed viability, fertilization, weeding, multiple shoots, porcupine damage, black twig borer attack, red stem borer attack and the forest fires as examples.

Forest Department had taken remedial actions for these challenges and still they are doing further studies to improve the khaya plantations. Still the khaya plantations in Sri Lanka are less than 10 years and therefore the Forest Department might face more problems with the time, because the rotation age of khaya is 30 years and still the yield tables for this species has not been prepared.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Status and possibilities on forest certification in Sri Lanka

Status and possibilities on forest certification in Sri Lanka

Abstract of a seminar presentation

Manuri Gamage

Forest certification found its roots in the concern over rapid tropical deforestation in the 1980s and the 1990s. It is a process which results in a written certification being issued by an independent third party, attesting to the location and management status of a forest which is producing timber. Forest certification also provides consumers with a credible guarantee that the product comes from environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable sustainably managed forests.

Sri Lanka has adopted only FSC certification by an independent, non-profit organization, formed in an effort to establish a global system for certifying that products come from well-managed forests. Only three multinational certification bodies accredited by FSC are currently issuing certification in Sri Lanka.

At present, certification is confined mainly to the rubber plantation sector in Sri Lanka. Only four such companies currently hold FSC forest management certification, out of large-scale plantation companies in Sri Lanka. Forty-two percent of the country's plantations are owned by small holders. Therefore, this group plays a key role in the rubber industry as well as in supplying raw materials to wood-based industries. None of the small-scale rubber plantations in Sri Lanka are certified. Out of the many manufactures only nine companies have obtain the chain of custody certification.

Facilitating group certification for small rubber plantation owners to obtain forest certification, encouraging certified plantation owners to focus on high-end species such as teak and mahogany where there is great potential to capture price premiums, building awareness among plantation owners of advantages of obtaining the certification other than price premiums, seeking new export markets for the certified timber and timber products, obtain approval for the FSC National standards and implement within the country, encouraging local organisations to obtain accreditation from FSC as a certification body, developing an internal certification scheme with its own standards can be mentioned as some of the potentials in forest certification in the country.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why indigenous species were not popular in Sri Lanka?

Why indigenous species were not popular in Sri Lanka in plantation establishment?
Abstract of a seminar presentation
Piyumi Nanayakkara

Forestry has two main functions to fulfill which are recognised as protection and production. Due to significant reduction in the natural forest cover in Sri Lanka during the recent past through the agricultural development, shifting cultivation and settlements; the functions that can carry out by natural forests were reduced. That means natural forests were unable to provide these two functions at required level. Therefore forest plantation establishment was started in Sri Lanka.

Utilisable timber plantations in Sri Lanka mainly consist of man-made forest plantations belonging to Forest Department (96,250 ha), companies under the Ministry of Plantation Industries (16,463 ha), private companies and rubber and coconut plantations. According to the data recorded in the past, it is clear that most of the tree species used for the plantation establishment were exotics such as Teak, Eucalyptus, Acacia, Pine and Mahogany.

Data on indigenous and exotic species were collected through the literature survey to select the most suitable species for plantation establishment, based on three selection criteria named as growth and management characteristics, end product characteristics and Usefulness of the species.

Results concluded that exotics are the most suitable and popular plantation species that recommended for Dry, Intermediate and Wet climatic zones in Sri Lanka. Monocultures of exotics cause certain shortcomings, however, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Therefore there is no secret of selecting or popular of exotics in plantation establishment compared to indigenous species in Sri Lanka.

There are some indigenous species suitable as plantation species such as Kohomba, Ebony (Diospyros ebenum), Jak (Artocarpus heterphyllus), Mara (Albizia sp), Halmilla (Berrya cordifolia), Hora (Diptercarpus zeylanicus), Kumbuk (Treminalia arjuna) and Lunumidella (Melia dubia), however, they were not popular for plantation establishment as exotics due to several poor characteristics such as relative low growth rate and having longer rotation length, very low volume compared to exotics, poor wood working qualities, unavailability of straight bole, lack of published information on Indigenous species and felling restrictions etc.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Challenges faced by the private sector in establishing mahogany plantations

Challenges faced by Private Sector in establishing mahogany plantations in Sri Lanka
Abstract of a seminar presentation
Madhushan Lankathillake

Mahogany is one of the important exotic timber species which is used for forest plantations in Sri Lanka. Mahogany was introduced to Sri Lanka in 1880 and it was used as plantation species in 1887. Later mahogany plantations were established in low land wet zone and low land intermediate zones. Private sector involvement in establishing large scale mahogany plantations started in late 90’s. When establishing mahogany plantations private sector had to face various types of challenges.

Finding a suitable land to establish plantations is one of the main such problems. In wet zone most of the fertile lands are used for agriculture crop cultivation. Therefore available lands are infertile or abandoned lands such as abandoned lands after planting rubber for a long time period. Additional effort must be needed to improve these infertile lands. Lands with steep slops, ridges or rocky lands also cause several problems. Damage to the seedlings caused by shoot borer attack is another major problem. Effective low cost methods of controlling shoot borer attack have not been found so far.

In order to provide shade, mahogany seedlings are planted under the canopy trees but when these trees are removed mahogany seedlings may get damaged. An EIA has to be done when removing naturalized canopy treesif the area is over 5 ha in extent. These canopy trees absorb fertilizer applied to mahogany seedlings and this will cause reduction of growth of mahogany trees. In the wet zone weed growth is very fast. Mahogany seedlings have to compete with the weed growth. Therefore during first few years of planting weeding must be done properly.

Available lands also do not have proper access so that transportation of seedlings and equipments aree difficult. Most of the plantations do not have nurseries with in their plantations. Therefore they have to buy seedlings from other nurseries and this is an additional cost for the companies and seedlings may also get damaged while transporting.

Moreover, scientific research has to be done to generate improved varieties which are resistant to shoot borer attack and tolerant to light. Low cost and effective methods of controlling shoot borer attack must be found out. A proper fertilizer regime for mahogany has not been developed yet. There is a lack of previous growth data and yield tables for mahogany within private sector. Sometimes people’s interest in investment in forest plantations will be changed in the future. Loss of trust on investment and economic crisis in the country as well as in the world will be barriers on investment in present situation. Reduction of investments will be a financial restriction in establishment of forest plantations.

In order to obtain an additional income, herbal plants and spices can be planted within the sites of mahogany at early stages. An proper system must be introduced to reduce the barriers and time consuming legal procedures which have to be done for canopy removal and final harvesting. Further, scientific research must be done with the involvement of the government departments and experts in the field. Appropriate procedures have to be found out to utilize carbon sequestration potential of plantations to gain an additional income. Programs and necessary background have to be created where an international investments in forest plantation sector is allowed.

Principles, criteria and indicators used in forest management

Principles, criteria and indicators used in management of tropical wet evergreen forests
Abstract of a seminar presentation
Isurie Dharmasoma

Principles, criteria and indicators are used to define, implement and monitor the forest management. Primary framework for managing forests in a sustainable fashion is provided by principles. It provides the justification for criteria and indicators.

A set or situation which should be met to comply with forest management activities is described by criteria. Criterion itself cannot be measured and therefore indicators are used to measure criteria. Indicator is a quantitative, qualitative or descriptive attribute that indicates the direction of change when periodically monitored or measured. Therefore criteria and indicators are used to monitor progress towards sustainable forest management.

Ongoing international initiatives of criteria and indicators are Helsinki process, ITTO criteria, Lapartique process etc. Principles, criteria and indicators included in these initiatives are different to each other because they are applied to different ecological regions. ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organisation) criteria are used for management of tropical forests. They have introduced 7 criteria and 66 indicators which can be applied in tropical forest management. These criteria and indicators are used by certification bodies, government officials, forest managers, scientists etc.

Under ITTO criteria, criterion 1 is enabling conditions for sustainable forest management. Criterion 2 is forest resource security. Criterion 3 is forest eco system health and condition. Flow of forest produce, biological diversity, soil and water are criterion 4, 5 and 6. An economic, social and cultural aspect is criterion seven.66 indicators are comes under these 7 criteria.

Criteria and indicators are to be easy to apply. However there are limitations also. Therefore the correct application of criteria and indicators contribute to the sustainable forest management.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Contribution of Sri Lankan forests to non-wood forest products

Contribution of Sri Lankan forests to non-wood forest products

Abstract of a seminar presentatation

Padmi Gunarathne

Non-Wood forest products (NWFPs) have an important role in the rural economy of Sri Lanka and they also provide benefits of considerable importance at the national level. They have a major impact on the social and economic conditions of village communities by providing a wide array of materials which enrich and diversify rural life. The knowledge, skills and social customs relating to NWFPs have been passed from one generation to the next and form part of traditional culture.

There are various categories of NWFPs available in Sri Lanka. The most important are rattan and bamboo, medicinal plants, the products of hunting, tapping, honey and grazing etc. Around 40% of the rural population in the Dry Zone is forest dependent and derives some benefits from NWFPs. The annual income from NWFPs per forest dependent household in some parts of Dry Zone of Sri Lanka is around Rs 15,000.

Kitul (Caryota urens) is the most significant NWFP in the Wet Zone and it contributes over 70% of the total income of the household engaged in this activity.

Lack of policy guidelines, a shrinking resource base and inadequate knowledge on cultivation, management, harvesting, processing and storage are identified as the major issues which hinder the development of the NWFPs sector. Major reforms in policy, legislation and management strategies, together with a coordinated effort in research on cultivation, utilization and product development, should be undertaken for sustainable development of the NWFPs sector in Sri Lanka.

Establishment of farmers' woodlots in Sri Lanka

Establishment of farmers' woodlots in Sri Lanka

Abstract of a seminar presentation

Asanka Wijewarnasuriya

Farmers’ Woodlots are an outcome of some donor funded social forestry projects such as Participatory Forestry Project (1993-1999) implemented by the Forest Department. There are about 15,500 ha of Farmers’ Woodlots have been established in 19 districts of Sri Lanka. The major species used for this purpose is teak (Tectona grandis). In addition to that, species such as Neem (Azadirachta indica), Eucalypts (Eucalyptus species) and Khaya (Khaya senegelensis) have also been used. There are monocultures and mixed-cultures such as Neem-Teak mix.

People belonged to lower income groups have been selected for this programme and they were given incentives for the establishment of Woodlots. They were given lands under a lease agreement for a period of 25 years, and food coupons, seedlings, fertilizer, right of intercropping in the given land and technical assistance were also given. Those incentives encouraged them to establish Woodlots by using their labour, time and knowledge. People have the right to harvest timber after the rotation age of 25 years.

Establishment of Farmers’ Woodlots has contributed to increase the tree cover and to conserve the natural forests. By fufilling the objective of establishing those forests, poverty reduction has occurred due to Farmers’ Woodlots. However, growth rates in most Farmers’ Woodlots are poor. In accordance to provincial yield table values, most of the woodlots fall in height class III. In respect of Farmers’ Woodlots, per tree average volume was found to be 38% with regards to provincial yield table values. The major reason for poor growth rates has been the less productivity associated with the lands selected. Mismatching of species and sites, water shortage, uncontrolled burning of weeds have been other reasons for poor growth.

Most of the people participated for Farmers’ Woodlots Programmes, due to early incentives. Therefore, it is obvious that people haven’t been educated well about the importance of the programme. Inadequate monitoring and assistance of Forest Department is another problem which has lead to weak maintenance of Woodlots by farmers. Most of the people who participated to Farmers’ Woodlots Programme have ignored the final or the long-term benefit which is timber. Due to the incentives given, people have completed the planting of seedlings and the maintenance of Woodlots during the first 3-4 years successfully. However, in respect of the long-term benefits, Farmers’ Woodlots Programme has been unsuccessful.

In order to overcome those issues, it can be recommended that planting of Nitrogen Fixing Trees in vacant places after thinning operations, planting of elephant repellent tree species around the woodlots and extending the rotation period for existing woodlots. For newly establishing woodlots consideration of site-species compatibility, use of fast growing species and use of a better monitoring plan can also be recommended.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Challenges faced in establishing eucalypt plantations in Sri Lanka

Challenges faced by the Forest Department in establishing eucalypt plantations in the up country of Sri Lanka

Abstract of a seminar presentation

Jithya Wijesinghe

Eucalyptus was introduced to Sri Lanka in the latter part of 18th century as an exotic species to be raised as a forest plantation species. These were originally raised in the upcountry to produce fuel wood for households and tea industry. But later most of these species were found very promising for railway sleepers and industrial timber. Therefore at present Eucalyptus are planted to meet the requirements of sawn timber, railway sleepers, transmission poles, fuel wood, extraction of essential oils and paper pulp.

Eucalyptus is also planted as windbreaks and shelter belts in certain locations particularly in the upcountry. Beekeeping is another common practice in some areas where eucalypt plantations are raised.

Afforestation of the patana grasslands in the upcountry began in 1930's with planting of E. grandis, E. microcorys and E. robusta in compact blocks on the crests of ridges and hill tops as windbreaks in upcountry.

Environmental issues, social issues, economic issues, accessibility issues, harvesting issues, management issues, unforeseen catastrophes and others are some challenges faced by the forest department establishingEucalyptus plantations in upcountry.

With the sloppy areas, soil erosion was a major challenge that faced by the Forest Department. Furthermore high cost for road constructions, labour cost, encroachment of local people, limited land areas in upcountry, lack of water, high intensity for fire hazards, need of additional effort for soil conservation practices, contours makings are some of challenges faced by the FD.

In order to overcome these challenges establishment of more fire lines, use of soil conservation practices, use of wood aids to protect saplings from wind, enhanced management practices that are used by the FD.

Make harvesting operations well controlled and road guidelines specially in slopes >600, to reduce the wind damage to new plantations, proper grading of seedlings, establishment of water supply programs for field nurseries, enhance the involvement of the local communities to reduce the encroachments are some practices that can be used for further improvement of the establishment of the Eucalyptus plantations in upcountry.