Sustainable Potential of Timber Industry in Sri Lanka: Stakeholders’ Perspectives


  • Edirisinghe R.D.
  • Pathirana S.M.



Timber is a sustainable building material historically used in manmade structures. Overexploitation
of timber resources disturbs the environmental sustainability. Stakeholders’ role in meeting
environmental performances of the timber industry is vital. This exploratory case study adopted a
mixed-method design to assess the stakeholders’ perspectives on the sustainable potential of the
timber industry in Sri Lanka. Fifteen experts (i.e. four Ph.D. scholars from four public universities,
an official from State Timber Corporation, two environmental non-government organizations, an
official from Forest Department, a local timber vendor, a consumer, a charted engineer from a private
construction company, a timber grower, a timber importer, an official from Ceylon Chamber of
Commerce and a representative of Construction Industry Development Authority) responded to an
online semi-structured questionnaire based on the analytical hierarchy process (AHP). Respondents
ranked three criteria (influence, interest and social acceptance), and four stakeholder categories at the
sub-criteria level (i.e. Government Sector, Corporate Sector, Non-government Organizations and
Consumer), in pairwise comparisons. Experts also opined on consumers’ and suppliers’ preferences
for imported timber, locally sourced unused and reused-timber. Expert opinions were ranked
according to AHP criteria weights. A stakeholder analysis was performed by using the influenceinterest matrix. The unanimity of expert opinions was evaluated with Kendall’s Coefficient of
Concordance. The quantifiable gap between the theoretically optimum scenario for sustainability in
the timber industry and the current scenario was used to mathematically define the timber sector's
sustainable potential. A matrix was developed to quantify the overall sustainable potential. In the
matrix, if the two scenarios were unequal according to the analysis, a score of zero was assigned,
whereas a score of one was given for similarity. Finally, the number of dissimilar criteria divided by
the total number of criteria yielded the sustainable potential. Experts also opined about the technoeconomic feasibilities of theoretically optimum sustainable measures. Results show that social
acceptance is the most vital criterion for sustainability, and consumers and suppliers opt for imported
timber in the current scenario. Overall, the sustainable potential of timber industry was estimated to
be 67%, which is significant. The outcome of the present study would benefit policymakers,
stakeholders and consumers in informed-decision-making to promot sustainbility in the timber sector
in Sri Lanka.

Keywords: AHP, Stakeholder analysis, Greening potential, Wood

Author Biographies

Edirisinghe R.D.

Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Pathirana S.M.

Faculty of Computing and Technology, University of Kelaniya, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka