Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sandalwood research has been granted Rs. 1.1 M by the National Research Council of Sri Lanka

Recognising the value of sandalwood research conducted in Sri Lanka by Dr. Upul Subasinghe, the National Research Council has granted him Rs. 1.1 M for further sandalwood research in 2011. Dr. Subasinghe will conduct this research project with the collaboration of Mr. Dhanushka Hettiarachchi of the Wescorp Sandalwood Pty Ltd in Western Australia and Prof. John Fox of the University of Curtin Technology, Australia.

“There is a growing potential in investing sandalwood plantations in Sri Lanka by the public and also the income of the villagers in the areas where sandalwood can successfully be grown can be enhanced by supporting them to plant and maintain sandalwood in their homegardens” says Dr. Subasinghe. He further added that most of the villagers in Sri Lanka are not aware of the value of sandalwood and therefore they use this valuable tree for even their roofing constructions and as handles for agricultural tools.

Dr. Subasinghe and his team has successfully conducted preliminary research on sandalwood in Sri Lanka and published the findings in different journals such as proceedings of International Forestry and Environment Symposium, Sandalwood Research Newsletter etc. They have already worked on oil quality variation between regions and within trees and the different nursery techniques that are essential to establish successful plantations. As a key finding, they have identified the sandalwood trees producing oil over 6% in Sri Lanka which is highly unusual.

With the National Research Council research grant, Dr. Subasinghe and his team will look into the oil variation, sapwood heartwood variation and growth variation of sandalwood in different agro-climatic regions. This study will further investigate the effect of different natural host species on oil quality and quantity.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Obtaining organic certification for man-made forests

Abstract of a Seminar presentation
Sanduni Samarasekara

Forest Certification is being practiced in the industry since the 1990’s and presently, there are more than one standard or certification process that govern more than 3.2% of the world’s forest lands.

In the last decade, Forest Certification has acted as one of the most effective ways of promoting Sustainable Forest Management. It clearly addresses three issues; deforestation, maintaining the biodiversity and forest degradation. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) are some of the main Forest Certification systems in the lime light today.

Although, the present certification criteria address most of the issues in forestry, when considering man-made forests and plantations, they have not been able to put an end to the chemical usage in forestry, as in fertilizer, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides etc. Usage of these can offset the reduction in Carbon Foot Print that one hopes for by planting more and more trees. Additionally, there are the health problems caused by the heavy metal ingredients and other toxic matter. This scenario has provoked the need of an Organic Certification for man-made forests as well.

Organic Certification is not new to the globe or to Sri Lanka; it has been amongst in the form of Organic Certification for Agricultural Products and other food types. Since, no fixed criteria have still been derived for the Organic Forest Certification, one has to consult the prevailing Agricultural Organic Certification criteria and the FSC guidelines to obtain a clear picture. In this study, the candidate has chosen to make reference to two Organic Agricultural Standards, one from Sri Lanka and the other from India.

The possibility of obtaining Organic Certification for man-made forests is not only about deriving the guidelines. Further, a well defined market should be maintained in order to avoid market failures of this important non-governmental market instrument of Sustainable Forest Management.

Current status of obtaining carbon credits for forest resources

Abstract of a Seminar presentation
Shanuda Maddumage

Kyoto Protocol laid in 1997 is the international treaty agreed to in principle by parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change to limit greenhouse gas emissions. This protocol assigned each developed country a greenhouse gas target to be achieved, on average, for the period 2008–2012.

The primary action to meet Kyoto targets is the reduction of emissions, or abatement. The protocol allows the use of other methods to assist countries in meeting the targets. These include emissions trading, joint implementation (JI) and the clean development mechanism (CDM). An emissions trading system, if introduced, is based on a permit authorizing the holder to emit a specified amount of greenhouse gas. Carbon sinks such as forestry plantations could be incorporated into this system by allocating credits for the amount of carbon sequestered (stored in plants), which could then be sold to emitters, allowing them to offset rather than reduce total emissions.

Carbon credit is an amount of carbon stored or sequestered in a carbon sink, which can be used by governments, or other entities, to offset greenhouse gas emissions. It is a tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one ton of carbon or carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).

Properly implemented and verified, forestry projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions or increase its sequestration over time can access new revenue sources through Carbon Credits. These projects are generally grouped into categories that relate to the management practices implemented on the property. For example, Afforestation/Reforestation projects plant native species on a land that has been previously converted to non-forest use. REDD (Reduced Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation) projects prevent the removal of existing forest stands and preserve them over long term. Improved forest management projects increase the carbon sequestration capacity of the land by changing to sustainable forestry practices.

Although these projects obviously have environmental benefits, selling carbon offsets from these projects is problematic in a number of ways. Some of the common problems associated with forest carbon credit projects are slow payback, reversibility risks (lack of permanence), leakage, methodological challenges, lack of space and availability of alternatives. Finding solutions to these problems are a major concern in post-Kyoto actions.

Sri Lanka, as a country with high canopy forest cover of 23.5% and a forest cover of 40% in general the potential to act as a GHG sink in forestry sector is very high. However due to lack of finance, lack of knowledge and because of the complexity and hard estimations in the procedure, Sri Lanka is not in a very strong platform in forest carbon credits.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Value addition to Teak plantations

Abstract of a Seminar presentation
Hasini de Alwis

Teak (Tectona grandis) is one of the most premier luxury hardwood timbers in the world. It is native to the Indian-Burmese floristic region and found naturally in India, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. It was introduced to Sri Lanka due to high quality wood by a Dutchman in 1680. Taungya method and participatory forest projects were two popular methods in establishing Teak Plantations at the beginning. At present teak plantations are maintained on state owned lands, private lands or as farmer woodlots. According to the Sri Lanka Forest Department, the present extent of teak plantation is approximately 45,000 ha which is distributed mainly in dry and low intermediate zones.

Value addition is a concept which an additional value is added to the product or service that has above the baseline. Teak Plantations are mainly managed for commercial purposes. Therefore the private plantation companies who export their timber have more concern about this concept.

Replacing lumber with reconstitute panels, polishing the furniture products, manufacturing timber products according to customer’s requirement, practicing seasoning methods and pre-treatment methods, obtaining certain forest certifications will add values to the end product.

Value additions can be done by increasing tree growth and timber quality of Teak plantations. Genetically improved seeds can be taken from clonal seed orchards, seed production areas.

Tissue culture to develop large scale uniform superior plants can also be practiced. Good silvicultural practices like proper spacing, pruning, weeding, thinning, pest and disease control can be done to produce high quality timber. Teak is grown as mixtures with Jak, Margosa, Eucalypts and Mahogany. Practicing agroforestry systems will provide additional incomes from agri crops and by doing so, the land is maximally utilised. Applications of organic fertilizer, fire management are some eco-friendly forestry practices can add values to the plantation.

Plantations are maintained by using the local labor. Therefore, it is desirable to maintain the structure of the local community in a way that provides a steady supply of reliable workers.

In Sri Lankan context, value additions to the plantation are not practicing properly. Advance silvicultural practices, promoting agroforestry systems, adopting appropriate new technologies and obtaining forest management certifications to the end products are recommended for the teak plantations to add values so that a better price and a better reputation can be obtained.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Value addition to Eucalypt plantations

Abstract of a Seminar presentation
Ama Wickramarachchi

Eucalyptus is a native tree to Australia which is now widespread across the world because of its fast growing rates and adoptability to wide range of geographical area from lower altitudes to higher altitudes. There are about 700 Eucalyptus species recorded in the world. It was introduced to Sri Lanka in late 1800s as a fuel wood to the upcountry households and tea industry and later different species were introduced to dry, wet and intermediate zones of the country.

Eucalyptus plantations receive criticisms due to its effect on soil fertility and hydrology. However, most of these criticisms have now been addressed by value additions to those plantations as well as to the end-products through sustainable management which optimizes economic, environmental and social benefits of the plantations.

Good silvicultural practices, planting superior clones of hybrids and genetically modified high yielding, disease-free, non-splitting trees obtained via vegetative propagations and field trials and mixed plantations would improve timber quality and quantity within the plantation. Practicing agroforestry and promoting related industries such as beekeeping, extraction of Eucalyptus oils and Eucalyptus dyes would generate additional income to the rural communities. At the same time it maximises the landuse of the area. Adding organic fertilisers, managing plantations for longer rotational periods, fire management and trench management are some of the eco-friendly management practices that add values to the plantations.

Timber seasoning, pre-treatments, designs used in furniture manufacturing and forest certifications will add value to the end product.

When comes to local context, it is very limited that Sri Lanka follows any value additions at the plantation level. Therefore agroforestry, promoting related industries, advanced silvicultural techniques, research and development and obtaining forest certification can be recommended to follow in order to add value to the plantation.

At the end-product level, Sri Lanka has to practice more advanced pre-treatment methods and designs in furniture manufacturing have to be improved in accordance with the current trends. Forest certification to the end-product would surely add a more value at the market level, specially in international markets. Moreover, it is becoming a must to compete in most of the export markets. Therefore Sri Lankan manufactures need to concern at least in obtaining this certifications to the eucalypt plantations and its products.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Current status of forest certification in Sri Lanka

Abstract of a Seminar presentation
Lanka Rathnayake

“Forest certification is the process of inspecting particular woodlands to verify if they are being managed according to an agreed set of standards’

There are several certification systems in the world. The forest stewardship council certification is one of them in Sri Lanka. The Forest Stewardship Council is an international non-profit organization founded in 1993 to support environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial & economically viable management of the world’s forests”. There are ten Forest Stewardship principles. It accredits certification bodies. It is a system for independent forest certification. It has introduced an international labelling scheme.

Center for the promotion of imports from developing countries has problems to promote non Forest Stewardship Council certified products. Sri Lanka will lose market share if it is not obtained. With Forest Certification new markets can be found, a higher price will be paid (around 3%) and forests will be saved for future generations. So, the main objective of this certification system is to establish a healthy and steady export environment for the wood processing industry of Sri Lanka.

There are several certification systems in forest certification as Forest Management Certification, Chain of Custody Certification and group certification. Control Union, SGS, SCS are the current accreditation bodies in Sri Lanka. Instead of national Forest Stewardship Council standards currently interring standard have been developed using generic standards in Sri Lanka.

There are thirty five Forest Stewardship Council certification holders in Sri Lanka. Forest Stewardship Council certified forest area in Sri Lanka is 31,657 ha. Fourteen Forest Stewardship Council Chain of custody certificates have been issued.

For Forest Management/Chain of Custody certification Kotagala plantation, Agarapathana plantation, Elpitiya plantation, and Kahawatta plantation are at final stage of inspection. Also two teak projects, one mahogany project and coconut project have been proposed for Forest Stewardship Council certification. To obtain Chain of Custody certification two printing companies are also proposed.

Current status of forest certification in Sri Lanka is at considerable level when comparing with other countries. At present, Forest Stewardship Council certification is confined mainly to the private sector in Sri Lanka. Demand for FSC certified products are also increasing. Group certification should be encouraged to fulfill the demand.