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Annual Forestry Symposium 1997

D M S H K Ranasinghe
Department of Forestry &Environmental Science
University of Sri Jayewardenepura

Community participation isan approach that is receiving attention across the globe, and one thatmarks a departure from the ‘catching up’ , ‘top down’ orientation whichcharacterised the cultural dimension of the modernist perspective of developmentwhich was in vogue in the 1960’s.

This paper reviews a numberof community participation projects which had been formulated to conservethe country’s natural resources and to empower people and rural  communitiesto manage and protect them in a sustainable manner while reaping economicbenefits.  The projects that are discussed are two coastal resourcesmanagement projects of the Coast Conservation Department located in Hikkaduwa(dealing with the conservation of corel reef) and Rekawa (dealing withlagoon and mangrove habitat conservation) and two community based managementprojects located in Ritigala (dealing with  medicinal plants) andKahalle - Pallekelle (dealing with  human-elephant conflict). The following aspects are highlighted in each of these projects/cases;

 * the degree/levelof community participation
 * the presence ofcollaborative decision making and co-management
 * the key naturalresource problems and their underlying causes
 * the key stakeholdersand interest of each stakeholder group
 * the management strategiesadopted, the extent to which these have been 
    ableto  address the needs of the community
 * the degree of sustainability

The paper synthesises thedegree of success and failures of each project in its approach to the community,planning, implementation and monitoring.  Recommendations are givenfor future improvement of community based conservation in Sri Lanka.


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