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  FORESTRY SYMPOSIUM 1995

LAND USE CHANGE AND NATURAL AREA CONSERVATION IN THE SOUTH EAST DRY ZONE OF SRI LANKA

M D C Abhayaratna
University of Sri Jayewardenapura

The South East Dry Zone (SEDZ) which is one of the least developed regions of southern Sri Lanka, has experienced considerable land use changes during the last few decades. A rising population has exerted increasing pressure on land while reducing the land / man ratio. Competition for land uses has become very acute and encroachment upon state land is commonplace in the area. Natural Areas and reservations controlled by various agencies of the Government are the most prone to encroachment, thus causing severe strains on forest lands.

In the SEDZ, approximately 35 percent of the land area remains under Protected Area of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Forest Department. With the development thrust of the region there is tremendous competition for land by the different users and the changes in land use are taking place at a rapid rate posing a severe threat to the Natural Areas of the SEDZ. Hence, there is an urgent need to understand the pattern of change in land use in order to arrest the undesirable consequences.

In view of this situation, the present paper analyses the existing land uses with due emphasis on the pattern and process of change. It also focuses attention on rationalization of land use from the perspective of future demand for land and Natural Area conservation.


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