Chilaw, Sri Lanka, 15-17 August 2018

As follow-up to the 2017 consultations in India, the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Sri Lanka, in cooperation with the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) organised a knowledge-sharing workshop on best practices in implementing forest landscape restoration (FLR) in South Asian countries. Around 60 experts contributed to the workshop, including partners from governmental and non-governmental institutions in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well as international expert organisations of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) such as FAO, IUCN, TROPENBOS and CIFOR.

Generous funding for the workshop was provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety; The Global Environment Facility; National Institute of Forest Science, Republic of Korea; and the United States Forest Service.

Figure 1: Deputy Conservator of Forests, Mr. Nishantha Edirisinghe, of the Sri Lanka Forest Department discusses a 2015 assisted natural regeneration intervention at the Wanniyagama Forest Restoration Area ©IUFRO

After three days of lively exchange, including a field trip to FLR sites along the dry coastal region from Chilaw to Kalpitiya (see photos), the warm and windy Sri Lankan air was buzzing with discussions of FLR implementation, needs and opportunities, personal anecdotes and experiences, and enthusiasm for FLR in South Asia. We know what our objective is, and we will do it! affirmed Deputy Conservator of Forests, Mr. Nishantha Edirisinghe, of the Sri Lanka Forest Department while reflecting on the value of FLR as a process to help achieve multiple social, economic, and ecological objectives in the country.

Several participants echoed admiration for recent progress in the South Asian region, particularly with regards to the increasing prevalence of “landscape thinking” – an interdisciplinary perspective which considers the multiple-functions of landscapes to optimise benefits across scales. However, the focus was on actions to improve integrated land use planning, cooperation among sectors, knowledge-sharing among peers, and awareness of public and government bodies about the direct impacts that FLR has on livelihoods and public health, for example through its linkages to air and water quality, and sustainable income opportunities.

Workshop outcomes will be elaborated in a report and a summary of key messages provide input to the upcoming Asia Bonn Challenge High-Level Round Table Meeting in Sri Lanka this autumn.

The workshop framed discussions around FLR needs in South Asia, governance and policy, engaging stakeholders, financing FLR implementation, FLR decision-support tools at national and sub-national levels, FLR implementation approaches, monitoring and adaptive management, and future actions.

Workshop presentations are available here:

Farmers of Mahahenyaya Agroforestry Woodlot discuss with workshop participants at their 7-year old teak (Tectona grandis) plantation ©IUFRO