Key Stakeholders Discuss Economics of Forest Restoration at Committee Meeting

9 May 2024

The IPS recently hosted a key committee meeting focusing on the Economics of Forest Restoration as part of the project titled “Economics of Forest Restoration as a Carbon Mitigation and Nature-based Solution in South Asia: Evidence from Agroforestry Programs in Sri Lanka” funded by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). This meeting brought together key stakeholders, including the Forest Department of Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation, the State Timber Corporation, and the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA). The main goal of this meeting was to gather valuable insights for an upcoming project field survey.

Mr Nishantha Edirisinghe, the Director General of the Forest Department of Sri Lanka, shared updates on the Farmers’ Woodlot programme, initially aimed at improving livelihoods and timber supply, which has now also shown benefits in increased carbon sequestration and distribution effects. Mr Edirisinghe stressed the importance of enhancing the Farmers’ Woodlot scheme to provide a sustained income stream to farmers.

Dr Muthumala, Assistant General Manager (Research, Planning, Monitoring & Training) of the State Timber Corporation, highlighted the corporation’s role in purchasing timber from Farmers’ Woodlots at competitive prices, thus fostering a mutually beneficial relationship.

Dr Herath Gunathilake, Executive Director of CEPA and an Environmental Economics specialist, identified the Timber Permit System as a barrier for farmers seeking fair prices. He suggested the importance of liberalising the timber market to improve the bargaining power of farmers.

Mrs Dammika Malsinghe, Additional Secretary (Project) at the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation discussed the feasibility of linking the Farmers’ Woodlots programme with carbon trading initiatives.

Additionally, three Deputy Conservators of Forests representing the North-Western & Western, Central and Uva and North Central and Eastern regions of Sri Lanka provided insights into challenges such as wildlife encounters, lack of modern technology, unmet irrigation needs and poor institutional collaboration affecting the programme. They called for targeted interventions and collaborative efforts to overcome these obstacles.

The meeting served as a critical platform for stakeholders to align on objectives and strategies, ensuring the success of the forest restoration efforts in Sri Lanka.