Restoration and Expansion of Forest Cover with Rural Livelihood Improvement Using Farmer Participatory Rubber Cultivation

Forest cover in the country is to be expanded by 2% while conserving the existing forests. Most encroachers are the resource poor farmers who are engaged in cultivation of seasonal crops by disturbing the forests for their livelihood.  Practicality of forest conservation depends on how their needs are met sustainably. Providing a stable income source for this category with tree planting would be the best solution to protect the forests as well as for its further expansion. 

Among the tree crops, rubber cultivation appears to be the best proven approach in farmer participatory forestry where the country is benefitted by meeting its natural rubber requirement whilst improving the livelihood of peasant community and increasing the tree cover. Sufficient literature is available in support of its success in improving the livelihood where rubber farmers in Ampara and Monaragala districts are recorded to be earning a stable income of about Rs.30,000/- per month.  Rubber provides dense forests where tree cover is about 80%. In addition to above two districts, rubber cultivation has shown success in Anuradhapura district. Being a tree crop introduced beyond the business as usual and confirming the additionality in fixing atmospheric CO2, rubber cultivation in this manner is eligible for Carbon Trading.

This approach aims to plant rubber as a farming system with the participation of rural communities in three provinces (i.e. North Central, Uva and Eastern) in view of;

  • Restoration of forest cover in degraded forest lands in buffer zones using farming system approaches
  • Providing a stable income source to poor farmers to improve their livelihood and thereby alleviate rural poverty.
  • Supporting natural rubber industry in the country to enhance foreign exchange earning

·            Facilitating to march towards the greener policy with carbon neutrality in the country by 2050