Australian High Commissioner, Ms Robyn Mudie (extreme right) at the tree planting ceremony to mark World Environment Day

The Australian High Commissioner, Robyn Mudie, and the Sri Lankan Conservator General of Forests, Anura Sathurusinghe, marked World Environment Day with a ceremonial planting of two Sri Lankan trees (ebony and na) at the Australian High Commissioner’s official residence in Colombo on June 10.

The High Commissioner commented that adding the ebony and na tree to the garden today is a symbolic gesture of the continuing process of renewal and growth here at the residence and in the bilateral relationship between Australia and Sri Lanka. She remarked, “Australia has partnered the Forestry Department for more than 15 years, most recently on the introduction of community forestry management in the dry and intermediate zones.  World Environment Day 2015 is an ideal occasion to celebrate the results of this long-standing collaboration”.

The tree planting was followed by a presentation to guests by the Conservator General of Forests, who explained the importance of community participation in forest management. He remarked, “With Australian assistance, the Forestry Department has enriched over 20,000 hectares of forest and helped over 37,000 families to increase their income and take a more direct role in forest conservation”.

The community forestry approach has proven one of the best models in the world for the sustainable management of forest resources. The Sri Lankan Forestry Department has tested a number of participatory models since the 80s . The community forestry model now used in Sri Lanka was intensively tested from 2003 with the help of Australian experts.  More recently, Australia and the Sri Lankan Forestry Department along with the United Nations have been expanding and refining the model.  Australia has provided over AUD 14 million towards the development of community forestry in Sri Lanka since 2003.