PEOPLES PARTICIPATION IN FOREST RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT A CASE STUDY IN POLPITHIGAMA, KURUNEGALA
This paper illustrates the results of a study carried out by the Forest Department aimed at reestahlishmentof vegetation covers on state owned barren lands as well as under-developedprivate land through people's participation. The study area was at Polpithigama. inKuruncgala District situated adjacent to Pallekclc Forest Reserve (11.000 hectare) inKurunegala and Anuradhapura Districts. The settlers of Polpithigama are second and thirdgeneration families migrated from neighbouring villages within last 2-3 decades. Eight)'seven percent 01" villages were subsistence farmers. The majority belongs to underprivileged state 01" the society. Except the Funeral Aid Society. there were no other SOCIalorganisations.
The management interventions of the Extension unit of the divisional forest office inKurunegala included formation of farmers organisations. block planting. homesteaddevelopment and nursery establishment
Block planting. homestead development and nursery management were major activitiescarried out under this trial. Out of 127 farmers 76 participated in this programme and 38hectare of land was planted with Acasia oriculiformis. Sixty one (61 o/c) percent of blockswere successfully intereropped with vegetables, pulses and other short term crops. Totalseedling requirement (ISO.OOCll was provided by the village nursery maintained hy farmersociety. Land clearing, soil preparation, planting and other all activities were carried out bythe participation of the farmers and their families. Maintenance and protection were clone byfarmers. It was observed that the average income of farmer has increased by 37'lc during thefirst year and by 21St and IYlc during second and third years respectively. Sixty eightpercent of the farmers had developed their homesteads very satisfactorily. The observationshave revealed that. vegetation cover and soil fertility has improved and soil erosion is undercontrol. Micro-climate of the area also has changed desirably
According to the estimates, Forest Department's contribution to the programme was Rs.294,000.00. Participants contribution was Rs.716,7X2.00 which included establishment andmaintenance costs for 3 years. Therefore this study clearly disclosed that i I the properextension programmes were conducted and farmers were motivated. it is possible to seekactive participation of farmers Ior development of forest resources.