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  FORESTRY SYMPOSIUM 1995
TREES; SRI LANKA'S MOST SUSTAINABLE SOURCE OF ENERGY & RAW MATERIALS

Ray Wijewardene & P.G.Joseph

This paper commences with a broad analysis of the range of industrial uses for trees in the Sri Lankan context; only a few of which have been exploited. The sources of energy-use in Sri Lanka are then analyzed between imported and local energy sources, revealing that some 78% of the total energy used in the country is from biomass; fuel-wood for the hearth and fuel-wood for industry.

Land areas in Sri Lanka are then analyzed. The following estimates of land area are given: natural forest 28% ; forest plantations 01% ; industrial plantations (tea, rubber, coconut, etc.) about 15% ; scrub lands 10% ; "chena" about 15%.

The paper goes on to describe how even the 600,000 hectares of scrub land could usefully be converted to energy forests to generate electrical power (known internationally as Dendro-thermal-power) and would be capable of producing 4,000 GWh (Giga-Watt-hours) of energy annually on a continuous basis equal to the country's present production from hydropower. Costs, compared other energy sources, are also given.

A scheme for the employment of 200,000 rural families in the growing of fuel-wood on the 600,000 hectares of scrub land is then explored.

Expansion of the program is then envisaged to include the 1 million hectares of chena lands into profitable and sustained production of fuel-wood, providing further well paid employment for more than 300,000 more families in the rural areas.

A 6,400 hectares (8 km by 8 km) fuel-wood plantation, as required to continuously feed a typical 10 MW power-station, is illustrated for size (as an example, in the proximity of Puttalam). This would be about the same power output as the Inginiyagala power station under the Senanayake Samudra. Likewise the land area (676 hectares) for supplying fuel wood for a smaller 1 MW power station is illustrated.

The project, in toto, is so comprehensive it would match the Mahaweli program in magnitude and have the potential for ridding the country of dependence upon foreign sources for a very major part of it's energy needs while also providing employment - in the rural areas where they live - for hundreds of thousands of our rural population. But with a difference. It will cost much MUCH less, and for that reason may not be all that attractive to the international lending agencies!



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