Effectiveness of establishing forest buffer zones as a community forest management approach : a case study from the Sripada tropical peak wilderness sanctuary in Sri Lanka
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The Sripada Tropical Peak Wilderness Sanctuary (STPWS) in Sri Lanka which is located between latitudes 6˚- 45 ́- 6˚- 57 ́ N and longitudes 80˚- 27́-80˚-50 ́ E comes under the category of ‘Wet Ever Green Tropical Rain Forests’ and spreads over 224 square kilometers around the Sripada mountain range. In the peripheral areas of the forest sanctuary, there are a considerable number of villages and the forest has been utilized over centuries by the villagers on various purposes. Since over utilization of forest resources may easily induce forest degradation, the gradual swell of population in the forest periphery has threatened the survival of the forest. Given that aspect, the Forest Department of Sri Lanka has decided to establish Forest Buffer Zones (FBZs) in the periphery of the STPWS in 1972-73 with the aim of conserving of the dense forest via attempting to satisfy the communal needs for forest resources with the resources available within the FBZs themselves. Accordingly, while the main objective of the present research has been to analyze the effectiveness of establishing FBZs in the STPWS as an approach to Community Forest Management, the central research problem is to scrutinize whether both socioeconomic development of the rural community and conservation of the forest sanctuary can jointly be achieved through the establishment of FBZs. As the study area of the research, the STPWS, Sripalabaddala and Guruluwana GN divisions to the Southwest of the forest, as well as two FBZs, viz. #1 and #2, situated between the forest sanctuary and Guruluwana have been selected. Whereas there are no FBZs in between Sripalabaddala and the forest sanctuary, Sripalabaddala has been selected with the purpose of conducting a comparative study therewith. As regards sources and types of the data, both qualitative and quantitative data as well as primary and secondary data were collected. In order to collect primary data, questionnaire survey, case studies, quadrate analysis, observation, and discussion methods were employed. One of the key findings of the research was that forest resource utilization holds economical as well as social value to communities residing in the peripheral areas of the forest sanctuary. The villagers from Sripalabaddala have indifferently been utilizing the STPWS to gather forest produce due to the absence of any FBZ. However, the villagers from Guruluwana have utilized both the forest sanctuary and the FBZ #1 for the aforesaid purpose except the FBZ #2 which has been left behind owing to the scarcity of required forest resources therein. The FBZ #1 has been established by using Albezia (Albezia molucana), which grows in harmony with other local endemic plant species and fauna. Yet, the FBZ #2 established with Araucaria (Araucaria cookie) specie has hindered the growth of other local endemic species. When gathering of non-Timber Forest Produce, gem mining and poaching are entertained, the forest resource users have successfully been directed to the FBZ #1 from the STPWS. However, the forest sanctuary is continually being utilized by the villagers for timber extraction, gathering of costly resin varieties and spices since those are rarely available in the FBZ #1. In general, the FBZ #1 has considerably contributed to satisfy the needs of the community for forest produce. Underscored is that, when community involvement in the project is reflected on, the community participation in planning, monitoring, and evaluation phases is rather poor and consequently it has resulted in a number of project failures. The research concludes that the concept of establishing FBZs remains effective in both fulfilling the needs of the community that reside in the peripheral areas of the forest for forest produce and conserving the dense forest. Yet, realistically, the community involvement in every phase of such a project should be prioritized, regularly monitored and, prior to planning the project, every sphere of the patterns and needs of forest resource utilization by the community should thoroughly be examined. Moreover, the use of local, endemic, and commonly utilized plant species by community members in the establishment of FBZs would significantly increase the effectiveness of the project.
Masteroppgave development management- Universitetet i Agder 2010