PEOPLES PARTICIPATION IN FOREST RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT:
A CASE STUDY IN POLPITHIGAMA, KURUNEGALA
This paper illustrates the results of a study carried out by the Forest
Department aimed at re-establishment of vegetation covers on state owned
barren lands as well as under-developed private land through people's
participation. The study area was at Polpithigama, in Kurunegala District
situated adjacent to Pallekele Forest Reserve (11,000 hectare) in Kurunegala
and Anuradhapura Districts. The settlers of Polpithigama are second and
third generation families migrated from neighbouring villages within last
2-3 decades. Eighty seven percent of villages were subsistence farmers.
The majority belongs to under privileged state of the society. Except
the Funeral Aid Society, there were no other social organisations.
The management interventions of the Extension unit of the divisional forest
office in Kurunegala included formation of farmers organisations, block
planting, homestead development and nursery establishment.
Block planting, homestead development and nursery management were major
activities carried out under this trial. Out of 127 farmers 76 participated
in this programme and 38 hectare of land was planted with Acasia oriculiformis.
Sixty one (61%) percent of blocks were successfully intercropped with
vegetables, pulses and other short term crops. Total seedling requirement
(150,000) was provided by the village nursery maintained by farmer society.
Land clearing, soil preparation, planting and other all activities were
carried out by the participation of the farmers and their families. Maintenance
and protection were done by farmers. It was observed that the average
income of farmer has increased by 37% during the first year and by 22%
and 17% during second and third years respectively. Sixty eight percent
of the farmers had developed their homesteads very satisfactorily. The
observations have revealed that, vegetation cover and soil fertility has
improved and soil erosion is under control. Micro-climate of the area
also has changed desirably.
According to the estimates, Forest Department's contribution to the programme
was Rs. 294,000.00. Participants contribution was Rs.716,782.00 which
included establishment and maintenance costs for 3 years. Therefore this
study clearly disclosed that if the proper extension programmes were conducted
and farmers were motivated, it is possible to seek active participation
of farmers for development of forest resources.
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science,
of Sri Jayewardenepura,Sri Lanka. 1995-2000. All rights reserved.