Participation in improved forest governance
Previously we have developed mapping projects in different forest based communities in Kenya. Below is a current example of work we are able to deliver as a service.
Sri Lanka’s protected natural forests are rapidly deteriorating due to unauthorized clearing for commercial farming, plantations, and other top-down development activities. These land use changes are disrupting the ecological services, particularly the regulation of water regimes, and has increased the human-elephant conflict that causes severe damage to cultivations and other property. Other than ecological consequences, forest clearing is blocking out local communities and denying their customary rights to the forests.
The overall objective of the project is to sustain ecological services provided by forests for the benefit of the local communities. The ecological services include regulation of water regimes, maintenance of soil quality, biodiversity, limiting erosion and land-slides and modulating micro-climate.
The project attempts to improve forest governance with local communities’ participation in decision making and management of forests in the selected project areas. The provisions made in the Forest Policy for the participation of local communities, when adequately implemented, gives tools to sustainable management of forest resources.
Working together with the Forest Department, the project will facilitate the creation of Forest Governance Platforms/Forest Forums for bringing together communities, government stakeholders, political and religious leaders and other stakeholders. Forest Management Plans, which development is led by the Forest Department, will be the most concrete output. The project will facilitate this by, for example, bringing together and raising awareness of different stakeholders and producing necessary studies on the use and biodiversity value of the forests. There are incidences when land-grabbing cases can´t be solved without legal interventions; in these cases, the communities are provided legal assistance and support to protect them from illegal land-grabbing. Sustainable forest management is complemented by a livelihood component that aims at improving livelihoods based on sustainable use of forest resources, i.e. related to utilization of NTFPs.
The project will be implemented in three areas, namely Nilgala in Monaragala District and Welioya/Sorgune and Erathna in Ratnapura District. The direct beneficiaries will be the communities living adjacent to the natural forests who will be empowered to take part in the governance of the forests. Indirect benefits are extensive, including thousands of down-stream farmer families, as well as the global community in the form of preserving carbon stocks and biodiversity.
Project has received funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland for three years, starting in January 2015. Contact the project management team in Finland: srilankaforest(at)gmail.com
The local partner organisation Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) is a national level NGO engaged in the promotion of Environmental Good Governance and Environmental Justice. We engage in our activities through law and science. Our Vision is “Environmental Justice for all” and the mission it to “Protect the equal environmental rights of the people & environment and promote ecological sustainability by supporting ecologically sound community activities”. The objectives include sharpening the public debate on environmental good governance, promote ecologically sustainable development and environmentally responsible neighbourhoods, safeguard nature and people from environmentally & socially irresponsible activities and human rights violations, promote community participation in decision making on natural resources and, promote environmental justice and equity through legal and other means. The said goals are in the bylaws of the organization.
CEJ was established in January 2004 and is registered as a guaranteed limited liability company to appear before the courts when engaging in public interest litigation. CEJ has a board of Directors appointed at the Annual General Meeting by the membership. We have 70 members and around 2000 individual non-voting members. CEJ has both legal and science staff to deliver the pro bono service to the public especially to the marginalized groups.