Environmental Management

, 18:797 | Cite as

Future of forest gardens in the Uvan uplands of Sri Lanka

  • Ian K. Nuberg
  • David G. Evans
  • Ranil Senanayake


Forest gardens are traditional agroecosystems in the humid tropics that have evolved a forestlike structure and as such are commonly thought to be a good example of sustainable agriculture. While this may be true in the sense of soil protection and maintenance of biodiversity, they are not necessarily maintainable in the context of competing land use in the landscape. Such appears to be the case of forest gardens in the uplands of Uva Province of Sri Lanka. This paper reports an agroecological analysis of forest gardens and other forms of land use in Uva, and discusses how this understanding can be used to make use of the good properties of forest gardens. It shows that although they have very real environmental and social benefits, they are unable to satisfy the material needs of a rural population undergoing demographic and cultural changes. However, the alternative land-use systems, both private smallholder and state owned, have serious deficiencies with respect to long-term sustainability, and it is essential to develop appropriate alternatives. It should be possible to design a smallholder farming system that incorporates the high productivity of market gardens (i.e., the cultivation of seasonal crops such as vegetables) with, at least, the high stability and biophysical sustainability of the forest garden. Considerable work still needs to be done on the design of such a system as well as the agency for its development and promotion. The paper treats the forest gardens of Uva as a case study from which some general conclusions can be drawn with respect to the conscious development of forest garden systems elsewhere in the tropics.

Key words

Agricultural development Agroecology Agroforestry Forest garden Human Ecology Land degradation Sustainability 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian K. Nuberg
    • 1
  • David G. Evans
    • 2
  • Ranil Senanayake
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Agronomy and Farming Systems Roseworthy CampusUniversity of AdelaideSouth AustraliaAustralia
  2. 2.School of Environmental PlanningUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Geography and Environmental ScienceMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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