Forestry in a new landscape

2017-11-15 00:00:10

The world has been experiencing Mother Nature’s fury in full force through earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, landslides etc. Sri Lanka’s experiences haven’t been any different. The drastic and irregular climate changes are seen as an adverse consequence of deforestation. At present  awareness and concern regarding forest protection and environmental conservation is rising. The 27th session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission was hosted in Sri Lanka this year. It was conducted from October 23 to 27 at the BMICH, in Colombo, with the participation of President Maithripala Sirisena as the Chief Guest. About 300 local and international representatives participated at the event. There were representatives from 33 Asian region countries, including Sri Lanka. During the session, which was held under the theme ‘Forestry in a new landscape’ many discussions were initiated under topics such as guidelines for forest management, methods for regional forest and landscape establishments, existence of greenery in urban landscapes, contribution of forests for food and nutrition security, new ways for community forest management and estimating the forest resources in 2020.   

This commission is established under the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN and is held biannually.   

Sri Lanka hosted 27th session of Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission

“We have a target to increase forest coverage in the island from 29.7% to 32%”

-S.A. Anura Satharasinghe, Conservator General of Forests, Sri Lanka

After the signing of the Paris Convention, Sri Lanka is taking steps to achieve greener development and a greener economy under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena. “We have a target to increase forest coverage in the island from 29.7% to 32%. As a developing country, we have numerous development targets to reach as well. When planning our tactics to reach the targets, conserving forests is a challenge. Our intention of increasing forest coverage to 32% has to be kept in mind when our tactics to reach our targets and move forward as a nation are considered,” the Conservator General said.   Special features of the summit were the new ways and methods that were discussed for forest rehabilitation in the Asian Region. On a final note, he stressed that forest preservation should be encouraged. 

“Recognition of forest sector is particularly important,”

- Assistant Director General of the Forest Department, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN- Hiroto Mitsuki 

 Hiroto Mitsuki opined that major changes have to be made using many dimensions where the forest sectors operate. He explained that forests were essential in mitigating the impact of natural disasters such as cyclonic storms, droughts, floods and landslides.   

“Trees and forests play an important role in enhancing the resilience of the communities, but we need to evolve and be energetic to grasp these opportunities. Recognition of the forest sector is important. It highlights a broad contribution specifically on forests and exemplifies a broad new landscape. I want to assure that FAO is certainly ready to work alongside all countries and stakeholders to optimize forestry,” 
assured Mitsuki.   

“Forest aspects are long term and need to be treated strategically,” 

-Director General of the World Agro Forestry Centre – Tony Simmons

Tony Simmons addressed issues that arise in pursuit of creating new forestry landscapes.  He conveyed 14 key messages to be recalled when solving these issues. “Trees have made our planet habitable for humans, mammals and other forms of life and it will be the destruction of trees that will lead to our destruction as well. These forests aren’t just biophysical domains of trees. They have people living within. We have got to pay as much attention to the people as much as we do to the bio physical tree landscape,” he explained.  

“Forest aspects are long term and need to be treated strategically. Now of course it is agriculture that has created much of the destruction to the forests in the world. Reducing deforestation and degradation are worthy ventures,” he added.   

Simmons stressed that it is essential to pay attention to forest quality as much as to forest quantity. “Loss of nutrients occurs when trees are felled. 69% of carbon is lost due to degradation. Land degradation leads to loss of soil. It takes about 100 years to build up 2cm of topsoil. Land restoration is essential,” he underscored.  

He expressed his delight over working with various ministries and authorities in Sri Lanka to set up the workshop in keeping with the theme ‘Land health is national wealth’. It was stated that the FAO will be holding an international conference in February next year to address the issue of deforestation and how to increase forest area.  

“The environment has become a challenge to every living being”

-President Maithripala Sirisena

President Maithripala Sirisena  commented on the growing attention on forest conservation locally as well as internationally. Forest preservation, forest density, forest destruction, protection of natural resources, the value of natural resources are some of the topics that have received huge attention.   
“We were one of the first countries to sign the Paris Agreement in 2016, to take action in the preservation of the environment. As an initiative effort of the ‘Blue Green Era’, programmes have started to enrich the country with trees, leaves and increase forests and to encourage forest preservation. ‘Vanaropana National Tree Planting programme’ is one such programme that has been conducted islandwide. This aims to protect the forests in our country borrowing support from the triforces and police. The forestry conservation department also provides its support to carry on the activities of forest protection,” said the president.  

By not protecting forests and the rapid decrease of forest density, the environment can’t prevail. The main point of environmental conservation focuses on the simplest ways in which each and every citizen in the country will be able to protect forests. “Today, we can witness the climatic and weather changes like never before. The environment has become a challenge to every living being. In Sri Lanka, the Government is providing food for families, numbering about 8 lakhs, due to the drought, which lasted for 3 months. Other countries in the Asian pacific regions are also experiencing adverse effects due to weather too,” the president pointed out. He concluded by explaining how important the preservation of the environment is to minimize natural disasters.   

The target is to increase forest coverage from 29.7% to 32%. 

The event concluded with Thomas Hopper, Senior Forestry Officer and APFC Secretary, Food and Agriculture Organization, UN, delivering the vote of thanks.  


  Comments - 1

  • Gaspala Wednesday, 15 November 2017 07:34

    The increase from 29.7 to 32 %! Has anyone taken into account the trees that will be felled before reaching 32%?

    Reply : 0       0

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