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Forest sector in a green economy: a paradigm shift in global trends and national planning in Sri Lanka


Nimal Gunatilleke

About Nimal

Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya.

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The concept of ‘green economy’ has been brought into the mainstream policy discourse at the international level as a powerful tool in achieving sustainable economic development that promotes human well-being. Forests produce a range of both tangible and intangible ecosystem services and have an enormous potential to contribute to green economy. Despite being fundamental to the well-being of humanity, the natural capital that includes forests remain grossly undervalued or not valued at all within our conventional economic systems. Economic valuation of ecosystem services will enable better decision making, innovative and challenging investment opportunities, novel horizons for wealth creation and jobs in a green growth sector. At global scale, there is a paradigm shift to include the values of natural capital into national accounting and reporting system. Greening of the economy of Sri Lanka has the potential to be the new engine of growth, a new generation of green employment opportunities in a range of important sectors including forests. Capturing the true contribution of the forest sector to green economy would help to internalize the wholesome value of forest ecosystem services, which would ensure that the forests are worth much more when standing than when cleared for alternative land uses. The National Physical Plan for Sri Lanka (2011-2030) has correctly identified a ‘Central Fragile Area’ for environmentally friendly development. Over 133,600 ha of environmentally sensitive areas within this critical watershed that are presently under poorly managed cash crop cultivation have been identified for reforestation. This being the main catchment area of the entire country, the choice of species for reforestation needs critical scientific assessment as there are emerging environmental concerns over establishment of large scale monoculture plantations of fast growing tree species to meet the commercial scale timber and fuel wood requirements in such critical watersheds. Therefore, a new vision and a strategy is imperative in the light of the emerging scenarios of ecosystem services of forest sector in a green economy in Sri Lanka. Highest priority in forestry research and development should therefore be given for restoration of vital ecosystem services in mountain watersheds of the central fragile area.  

J.Natn.Sci.Foundation Sri Lanka 2015 43 (2): 101-109

How to Cite: Gunatilleke, N., 2015. Forest sector in a green economy: a paradigm shift in global trends and national planning in Sri Lanka. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 43(2), pp.101–109. DOI:
Published on 30 Jun 2015.
Peer Reviewed


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