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  FORESTRY SYMPOSIUM 1996
DWINDLING FOREST RESOURCES AND THE NEED FOR MANAGEMENT INTERVENTIONS: A CASE STUDY OF THE NILWALA GANGA WATERSHED

M D C Abhayaratna
University of Sri Jayewardenepura

Nilwala Ganga watershed lies in Southern Sri Lanka. Nearly 90 percent of the area covered by the watershed falls within the Matara district. Owing to the rapid increases of population during the last few decades there has been considerable pressure of population on land and a reduction of the land/ man ratio. An inevitable outcome of this situation is the encroachment upon forests. It is revealed that the forest cover of the Nilwala Ganga Watershed now amounts to only 15 percent of the total area. The marked reduction of the forest cover over the years has led to many problems such as increased runoff, accelerated soil erosion and land degradation in the upper basin in particular, and to increased flooding in the lower basin. Aggravation of these problems will not only cause untold hardships to many poor farming families but also endanger the sustainability of the present land uses. Hence, planned interventions amounting to controls and remedial action are urgently needed.

The present study makes an attempt to assess the nature and extent of the problems created by the dwindling forest cover and to highlight the need for management interventions from both the government and the non-government sectors, in order to control further reduction of the forest cover and to introduce better land management practices which ensure sustainability of the land uses.

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