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Agroforestry in the buffer zone of Sinharaja forest, Sri Lanka

The Sinharaja World Heritage Site is Sri Lanka&rsquo;s last remnant of virgin tropical rainforest. The districts bordering the Sinharaja forest are among the most densely populated in the country, but until recently very few families lived in the Sinharaja &ldquo;buffer zone&rdquo; directly bordering the forest reserve. There were no roads into the area, and the few established villages could only be reached after many hours of walking on forest paths. With little access to government services or external markets, these isolated communities depended on shifting cultivation, home gardens, and forest products for their subsistence.<br /> <br /> The project run by the Sewalanka Foundation, a Sri Lankan NGO, trains farmers in small business development, particularly in environmentally sound alternatives to tea, such as the collection, processing, and bottling of Sinharaja kithul (Caryota urens) treacle by community members, which is marketed as a Sinharaja Conservation Product through the Sewalanka Foundation. These sustainable agricultural practices have slowly helped reduce the situation of the Sinharaja watershed.&nbsp; More importantly, they have also increased sustainability and productivity of tea production on already cultivated lands. These efforts have both helped reduce the need for expansion and further encroachment into the forest, and contributed to the ecologically sound economic development of this World Heritage Forest buffer zone.

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