The development narrative continues to be revived despite its role in driving the current crisis and the millions of livelihoods it has destroyed through displacement and dispossession.
Together with many other organizations, we have once and again insisted on the need to remove tree plantations from the definition of forest, for the simple reason that plantations are not forests. But once and again the forestry establishment has insisted on including them as "planted forests" to adequate the definition to vested interests regardless of its scientific absurdity. The following extracts from a recent article by Ranil Senanayake sheds more light on the issue (the full article is available at: http://www.wrm.org.uy/countries/SriLanka/loans.html ):
When we say that forest loss is increasing across the globe we are not talking only about trees. We are losing not only the physical resources --plants, animals and insects-- but an irretrievable treasure of local knowledge, that in Sri Lanka --as in many other countries-- has been preserved mainly by women. However, women's contribution to forestry is concealed behind their domestic tasks as their forestry-related activities are directly related to home maintenance activities. Forests provide the vital three F's for women: food, fuel and fodder.
The greenery, wet soil and pure water springs brings you the impression of virginity. Darkness in the forest and sounds of birds and insects create a different world. You can experience this in Sinharaja, which is the most famous virgin forest in Sri Lanka. It houses the highest number of species and the highest endemism rates in Sri Lanka. The National Conservation Review of the country's natural forest carried out from 1991 to 1996 recorded 337 species of woody plants in the sample plots that were inventoried. Of these species, 192 (57%) are endemic and 116 (34%) globally threatened.
Forests are trees. Forests are biodiversity. Forests are wildlife. Forests are lands. Moreover, forests are politics. Development is clearing of forests. Conservation means more and more consultancies. Protection means a wider and wider gap between the forest and the communities. Regarding the forest issue, the context in Sri Lanka is not much different from this reality.
Mangroves are wetlands rich in biodiversity that are suffering a severe depredation worldwide. In Sri Lanka mangroves are associated with 22 brackish water bodies, locally known as lagoons. Even if mangroves area in that country is limited to 12,000 hectares, it is of much value since it includes very rare species and types of plant associations in different climatological zones. Fishing in these lagoons is the livelihood for over 120,000 coastal people.