Ocean level rising, ice cap melting, rainfall and forests dwindling


The above phenomena, causing frequent and worsening calamities, need be taken serious cognizance of, by the political policy makers, the world over, to prevent such; and not just fiddle, while Mother Earth burns, to denude itself of the effective forest cover.

Several an environmental lover and enthusiast, write often in the media, on possible impending environmental disasters. The Island newspaper in particular, on 24th, 28th and 31st January, published articles of a Senior Scientist of India, of a retired Conservator of Forests V. R. Nanayakkara and of Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda, on the need for the effective forest cover, as a remedy to prevent, or to mitigate said calamities.

All in all, accent was on the need of an effective forest cover, in every country, no matter, big or small, on desirable sites, if possible, in ideal percentage of its land mass. Which thus to benefit its biotic factor: man, animal & plant; and non-biotic factor, as soil, air and water.

An ideal forest cover, is a diverse vegetation of a floristic composition, by sizes and heights, with an undergrowth of shrub or bush, and also of herb and grass as a ground cover. Such thus to prevent rain drops directly falling on bare land, to dislodge soil particles; and so dislodged, be washed away in sheets, rills, drains and gullies, hardly percolating into the ground, to dry the flow in streams, rivers, once rains, cease.

Such a forest cover, in right places, favourably spread over a considrable territory, create both an ideal climate in a locality and a favourable weather pattern, in an area. Thus objectives in forestry practice need go hand in hand, with other pursuits of masses, in best possible harmony, not at expense of each other, but intergrated with those other pursuits.

Ipso facto, concepts in Agro-Forestry, Urban Forestry, Social Forestry, etc need favourably blend with the concepts of conservation forestry, to wit prevent soil erosion, floods, tempeature rise, oxygen and ozone depletion, carbon accumulation, & global warming. As an object lesson in Agro-Forestry, the practices of our ancestry in Kandyan Home Gardens outstands to whosoever a poilicy maker in such direction.

In utter contrast the trends in modern modern forestry practices the world over, a couple of decades ago was more a market determined a ‘Production Forestry Goal of a Sustained Yield’ than on ‘Conservation Forestry Goals of Ameliorating Man’s Environment’.

Consquent upon such, the accent in Forestry Practices in the Dry Zone was to establish vast Teak Plantations. Which was initially a departmental effort, which in concept ‘developed’ to harness ‘slash and burn’ or ‘chena system’ as Co-Operative Reforestation systems. By which system even valuable trees were burnt to ashes. Taken not long to realize a collosal waste thereby, marketing the timber wealth beofore slash and burn was adopted. Such attracted then the mercenary timber contractor/merchant, not sans even a collusion with the purported conservation officials.

And consequent thereupon, vast tracts of valuable timber rich forests, under excuse as secondary forests, like Hurulu Reserve and its vast evirons in North Central Province were converted to vast Teak Plantations. And which being bereft of the wide choice of fodder and the water hole or spring, for the wild animals, the desperate wild elephants resorted to maraud on cultivations of the habitual forest dwellers or resorted to fell the Teak Trees to strip, off its bark to munch and quench its thirst.

And in contrast, driven more by maket considerations under pretext of providing wood pulp for the paper industry, vast mypoic inroads were made by the hoity-toity elements exuding hubris of forestry professionalism converted the water catchment efficient, orchid, fern and moss laden bearded, thick, stunted gnarled tree cover with thick forest floor cover of Neluwa strobilathus herb covered Montane Zone, being replaced with Pine Plantaitions.

And where such Pine Plantation with its thick floor of easily combustible dried up pine needles, utterly inhospitable to any unfer-growth, was nevertheless easily cobustible to the incendiary fires of poachers of small game, the jungle fowl in partitcuar, a delicay famed. And the easily combustible pine needles, also is often quipped as the ‘Paradise on Fire’.

It is understood that the folly of the Pine Plantations having been realized, that now efforts are again on foot to replace them back with local species. In my humble opinion as a non-professional a Forest Ranger, the reversion of the Pine Forest need not be in 100% but say to about a scattered 20% and made a Polyculture, with with accent on the catchment aspect of such. Enhancing the economic value of the montane forests enriched with suitable Eucalptus, Toona, & essential Ochlandara (Bata)as too are essenials.

Similarly the enrichment of the Teak Plantations, with more indigenous species, not only of timber value, but also of medicinal value like Aralu, Bulu, Nelli, Milla, Mi, Kohomba, Kolon, Kon, Telambu, Welan, Woodapple,Halmilla and Kumbuk and Helamba, on damp sites. And no matter even the Eucalyptus, Mahogany, Jak, Tamarind, species as suits the site. Conservation effort need not be obsessed with only the indigenous species.

I, as a Retired Forest Ranger of yore, assures as nothing stated above need be regarded as crticisms of professionalism, ‘obsessed then with the goal ‘Sustained Yield in Foresty’.

Donovan Jayamanne

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