"With the GLF14 approaching and my residence in Sri Lanka drawing to an end, I took the opportunity to visit the Belipola Arboretum and Forest Garden, a living laboratory where one integrated landscape approach has been quietly developing for over three decades. Upon my arrival in the Central hills which encircle the remote rural village of Mirihawatta, I was presented a panoramic view of two different systems of land management – and two different models of rural development – presented side-by-side in striking relief. The contrast is utterly remarkable.
On the crests of the surrounding hills, the native forests have been entirely removed and pure stands of Eucalyptus have taken their place. Fires are employed to clear the understory of weeds, leaving nothing but blackened stumps of guinea grass below. Further down on the slopes, the land is entirely consumed by small vegetable plots, cultivated intensively by the villagers who rely heavily on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for their production. The severity of soil erosion is visible at a distance, as is the lack of proper terracing, contour bunds, or other soil conservation measures. At mid-day, the sun beats down on dry, degraded soil where once-common birds, mammals and reptiles have now become vanishingly scarce."
.... read more of this recently published piece by Simon Riley on the Global Landscape Forum website.