RIEL Seminar Series - Forest gardens are financially viable and 'climate-smart'


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Presenter:  Kamy Melvani

Date: May 10, 2019

Time: 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Contact person:  RIEL
T: 08 8946 6413
E: riel@cdu.edu.au

Location:  Charles Darwin University, Building Yellow 1.1.39

A global quest is ongoing to find financially viable agricultural models that are resilient to climate variability and shrinking natural resources. The Sri Lankan forest garden may well be such a model because it has prevailed for thousands of years.

Forest gardens are tree-dominant land uses in family farming enterprises. This study assessed and compared their financial performance with other livelihood components of 85 farming enterprises in the Intermediate agroecological zone of Sri Lanka. Floristic, timber and fuelwood inventories were undertaken, area mapped, and financial data collected and quantified using accounting methods.  Forest gardens occupied the largest area and had the highest floristic diversity. Tree crops were more productive than seasonal crops despite impacts of climate variability, animal pests and labour scarcity.

In the short-term: forest gardens contributed to household food self-sufficiency, generated the highest profit and profitability, and were the most financially efficient land use. In the long-term: forest gardens had the highest number of timber and fuelwood species with substantial potential value. Collective short- and long-term forest garden values made the greatest contributions to the financial performance of family farming enterprises. Forest gardens increase the financial viability of family farming enterprises and are a climate-smart agricultural model.

Kamy Melvani has rehabilitated degraded land to forest gardens in Sri Lanka for more than a decade. She holds a B.A. in Indian Philosophy, M.Sc. in Integrated Water Resources Management and Ph.D. entitled "Valuing forest gardens in Sri Lanka".  This will be the keynote presentation for the session on 'Agroforestry and green growth' at the World Agroforestry Congress in May 2019.