Investigation of ergonometric parameters of university lecture hall furniture

U.L. Palamakumbura and H.S. Amarasekara

Sitting comfort is considered important particularly in working environments with regards to health  and performances of day to day work. Sitting on a comfortable seat helps to relax the body and reduce energy consumption but on the other hand prolong sitting slackens abdominal muscles and may cause backache. Application of ergonomic approach to furniture designing helps to increase the comfort of furniture.

There has been an inherent in Sri Lanka on ergonomics of furniture designing (Abeysekara, 1982 and Silva 2006). No considerable attention has been given on ergonomics of universities or school furniture. It is important to concentrate on furniture in lecture halls and class rooms because children are spending a long period of their lives in schools and university working environments. The present study aimed at investigating of ergonomic parameters of lecture hall furniture of USJP (University of Sri Jayewardenepura). Though, the investigation has been done for Faculty of Applied science (FAS), the results can be applied to the whole university. The FAS of USJP has eighteen lecture halls and these eighteen lecture halls consist of four major types of furniture designs. A distinct variability was observed in the all ergonomic parameters of furniture in eighteen lecture hall. Most variability was observed in height of the back rest.

Furniture in each lecture hall of FAS was compared with the developed ergonomic standard values. Many mismatches were observed between standard ergonomic parameters based on anthropometric data with the ergonomic parameters of present lecture hall furniture in FAS. This may cause many health problems like back pain, neck pain and fatigue of university students. Seat height of the university lecture hall furniture of FAS does not match with the popliteal height of the students.

Furthermore, the user survey shows several problems regarding comfort of university lecture hall furniture. Students do not like fiber glass chairs with desktop arm rest at the right side and the ergonomic parameters (seat height, seat width) do not comply with the student’s body dimensions. None of the seating units in FAS fulfilled all the ergonomic parameters.

Positive remarks were given by the students for lecture hall P1 and M1. Based on anthropometric data of university students in FAS ergonomic parameters were proposed. Recommended ergonomic parameters are 42.5-43.5cm for seat height, 45-46cm for seat depth to back support, 16-17cm for height lowest point back support, 37-38cm for height highest point back support, 37-38cm for seat width, 54-55cm for vertical span below the table and 63-64cm for horizontal clearance below the table.

U.L. Palamakumbura and H.S. Amarasekara

Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka.

Estimation of ecological footprint for Madurawala Divisional Secretariat area, Kaluthara District

W.D. Sepalika and U.A.D.P. Gunawardena

The Ecological Footprint calculates the combined demand for ecological resources and presents them as the global average area needed to support a specific human activity. This quantity is expressed in units of global hectares. Present resource utilization expressed by such indicators will be helpful to recognize the future trends. Main objective of the study is to calculate Ecological Footprint per person in the Madurawala Divisional Secretariat area under four major land-use types which are crop land, carbon uptake land, forest land and built up land. In addition, it was intended to estimate the relationship between the socioeconomic parameters of the community and the footprint.

Madurawala Divisional Secretariat area in the Kaluthara district was selected for the study. Stratified random sampling method was used based on the income level of the households. To collect primary data, two surveys were carried out. First survey involved collecting data using a diary kept at the households to obtain actual daily consumption data on food consumption, electricity consumption and traveling data. The diaries were distributed among 50 households and were recollected after a month. The second survey involved a questionnaire survey of 49 households focusing on the same consumption data and forest product consumption and built up area data. In addition, secondary data were collected from various sources.

The comparison of data obtained from diaries and questionnaires prove that there is no significant difference between the two data collection methods according to the Mann- Whitney test. So both samples were considered as a single data set.

All consumption data values were converted into hectares by dividing from the national yield. The resultant hectare values were converted into global hectares (gha) by multiplying the yield factors and equivalence factors for each criterion.

The estimated footprint per person for cropland for food items is 0.21 gha and 0.15 gha for carbon uptake lands. The forest land Ecological Footprint is 0.01 gha and footprint for built up land is 3.07 × 10 -4. The total Ecological Footprint value for all categories is 0.37 gha per person.

According to the results of the multiple regressions analysis total Ecological Footprint has positive relationship with the income, age and the education level of the decision maker in the household. There is negative relationship with the number of members in the household.

The figures of Ecological Footprint are rather low compared to the estimates available worldwide. However, the estimates are for a rural area with low resource consumption and estimates for more  urban areas would be necessary to provide an indication of the overall trend of resource consumption of the country.

W.D. Sepalika and U.A.D.P. Gunawardena
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura Sri Lanka

Changing socio economic pattern and conservation of Maduganga wetland

P. Manusinghe

Maduganga situated in the Galle District of the Southern Province is typical of the river systems which line the south west coast of Sri Lanka. In the global context the ecological significance of the system has enabled it to achieve the “Ramsar Wetland” status in 2003. In the local context it is a Sanctuary, a Tourist Development Area and a Special Area Managed (SAM) by the Coast Conservation Department. The present study was motivated by the unique environment of this river system and the close relation of the inhabitants with the environment. Man’s utilization of nature and landscape over time is quite obvious in this system. The history of the man and environment relationship of the region is revealed by the historic and literary sources. Archaeological remains which belong to the recent past shed light on the constant change of local socio economics. Thus the evolution of the socio economic pattern of the research area was studied from the historical and archaeological evidence. The current state of the conditions was recognized through the participant observation and interviews with a sample of the residents in the locality.

Maduganga System represents the typical situation of the south western Sri Lanka which became the centre of power and socio economic activities from the 13th century A. D. In the Early Historic Age Maduganga region as well as the most of the south west coast had been low lying wetlands with hostile conditions for the human settlements. In 11th – 12th century A. D. southern Sri Lanka became a battlefield where the kings, princes and other leaders fought for the throne. Some of them changed the hard environment of the region to facilitate settlements and cultivation. Dambadeniya Kingdom became the first influential centre of power in the south west in the 13th century A. D. Historic chronicles reveal that Minister Dewapathiraja of the King Parakramabahu II of Dambadeniya Era had resided in the suburbs of Maduganga and developed the roads, bridges and agriculture of the area. Due to the occurrence of lagoons along the south west coast the global scenario of rising marine trade penetrated and overwhelmed the coasts. Therefore in this period ports and trade developed in the estuarine river mouths of the region while the variety of commercial and subsistant cultivations dispersed inland. This was a very critical transitional period of the socio economical pattern. With the foreign trade Cinnamon zeylanicum which grew naturally in the upper reaches of the rivers in this part of the country became a commercial crop. It attracted foreign invaders and played a pivotal role over the administration and socio economics of the region for few centuries.

Cinnamon centred economy went through major changes under the British occupation to bring out new economic values. As a result current socio economic background of the Maduganga region is dominated by tourism and fisheries. Cinnamon cultivation has also risen back after the years of collapse. These socio economic factors are very influential over the biodiversity of Maduganga wetland which is amply populated today. From this population our sample was ten households of the Maduwa Island. The main living of the majority of these was government and private sector employments which consecutively form 40% and 20% of the total. The rest is consisted with fisheries 20%, trade 10% and agriculture 10%. Therefore the principal income of only the 30% of the households is connected with the environment. But all the households have one or more secondary incomes as cinnamon cultivation, coir industry and tourism which directly involve environment. It clearly depicts the trend towards engaging in the formal employments extract of the environment while making an informal living from their environment. The research revealed the pros and cons of this current socio economic background of the region and the most appropriate conservation and management measures. Some practices of eco tourism, such as encouraging residents and tourists in enriching the mangroves are an example.

P. Manusinghe Department of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.

Human– wildlife conflict: issues, effects and conservation

O.S. Ojo¹, O. Akinyemi¹, A.I. Sodimu¹, B.S. Ojelade² and W.A. Jayeoba¹

Human – wildlife conflict was reviewed with the objectives of examining human – wildlife conflict and its effect especially those caused by crop raiding. Reports, write ups, textbooks, articles and materials from the internet by experts and professionals on the issue of human – wildlife conflict and the importance of conservation were all reviewed for the paper. The paper examines issues relating and emanating from human – wildlife conflict, its effect especially those caused by crop raiding and managing these effects in ensuring conservation. The need for conservation arises so as to protect wild animals perceived as threat to farmlands thus preventing the species from becoming endangered. The encroachment of wild habitats by subsistence farmers in Africa as a result of increased population is on the increase and this calls for concern. Crop raiding by wild animals is one of the major causes of human – wildlife conflict. Crop raiding can be simply defined as wild animals moving from their natural habitat onto agricultural land to feed on the produce that human grow for their own consumption. Some of the methods used in combating crop raiding include; Chasing crop raiders, Guarding scarecrows, plastic flags, Fireworks, Use of scents, Fences, Hunting, Trapping, poisoning. Some of these measures put in place portend danger to wild animal population. Conservation becomes important so as to protect the wild animal and its habitat encroached by man. The losses occasioned by wild animal activities will also need to be addressed so as to reduce crop losses. It is therefore recommended among other things that the need for conservation should be paramount in habitat management involving wild animals and humans, training and capacity building through extension services highlighting the need for conservation to the local community (farmers), adaptive management and applied research into the concept of crop raiding so as to reduce its resulting effects and also recognizing human – wildlife as one of the most critical conservation challenges facing protected areas today.

O.S. Ojo¹, O. Akinyemi¹, A.I. Sodimu¹, B.S. Ojelade² and W.A. Jayeoba¹

¹Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, P.M.B 2273, Afaka, Kaduna State. ²B2/82, Federal Housing Estate, Ita Elega, Abeokuta, Ogun State


The Link Between Environmental Conscious Consumer Behavior And Environmental Attitudes

Over the past three decades, the Environmental Conscious Consumer Behavior (ECCB) has increased in a progressive manner (Follows S.B, Jobber D, 2000). The ECCB is defined for this study as one who purchases products and services which he or she perceives to have a positive (or less negative) impact on the environment. Despite evidence to suggest that society is increasingly sympathetic towards the environment; many Environmental Friendly (EF) products have not achieved the expected level of market success (Wong et al., 1996; Aspinall, 1993). Therefore it is beneficial to marketers in Sri Lanka to know whether there is any relationship between ECCB and environmental attitudes. The dimensions used to measure environmental attitudes are: Perceived Consumer Effectiveness (PCE), Environmental concern, Liberalism and Alienation. PCE is a measure of the subject’s judgment in the ability of individual consumers to affect environmental/ resource problems (Antil, 1978 quoted by Roberts, 1995). Liberalism is a political orientation that favors social progress by reform and by changing laws rather than by revolution (Roberts, 1995). Environmental concern is a measure of the individual’s concern for the environment (Roberts, 1995). Alienation is a feeling of isolation from one’s community, society, and/or culture (Middleton, 1963).The person who buys the highest amount of consumer goods in households in Kotte electorate area was taken as the unit of analysis for the study. The total sample size was randomly chosen and fixed at two hundred. All the constructs were measured by using five point Likert-type format anchored by “always true” (5) and “never true” (1) as relevant to the given behavior. A standard questionnaire developed by Roberts J.A. (1995) was adopted for data collection. However, the validity and the reliability of the measurement scales were tested.  The association between environmental attitudes and ECCB was tested by using Pearson correlation. The results disclosed that environmental attitudes have positive and significant relationship with ECCB while Perceived Consumer Effectiveness has a strong positive correlation with ECCB than other dimensions.

Key Words: Environmental conscious consumer behavior, Environmental attitudes, Perceived consumer effectiveness, Environmental Concern, Liberalism, Alienation.

Malkanthie M.A.A.
Department of Marketing Management, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka

Sustainable Agricultural Practices in Sri Lanka

Dr. P.B. Dharmasena
Field Crops Research and Development Institute, Mahailluppallama

Sri Lanka is still and will be for near future considered as a country dependant mainly upon agriculture including plantation sector. Challenges posed by external factors due to globalization and open economic policies have directed the country’s agriculture to move away from the self reliance. Competitive export and import opportunities among countries have led to maintain the standard levels of quality and steady levels of production at a lower price in all commodities. This situation demands a firm and perfect policy for country’s agriculture. Further, present agriculture does not show any indication of sustainability as it has ignored the centuries old wisdom of traditional agriculture. In developing a strategic mechanism to promote an alternative to present agriculture, cognizance must be taken from deep rooted customs and traditions and the time tested agricultural practices to assure the sustainability in the agricultural sector.  Farmers’ dependency mentality evolved due to modern agriculture and the government policies dealt with agriculture from time to time should gradually be removed by developing self confidence, self motivation and empowerment.

Most critical issue at present is that the agriculture does not bring a consistent economic gain to the farmer. Import export policies do not respond effectively to maintain profitability of farming.  Farming without adequate concern on conservation of natural resources such as soil and water and environmental protection has led to deterioration of the agricultural resource base in the country and pollution of the environment. Government has not paid adequate attention to provide farmers with input and marketing facilities in time.  Land resource is utilized for various purposes including agriculture with out considering its suitability, capability and vulnerability to degradation. Farmers are not much aware of the current trends in agriculture, marketing and technologies.

Policy Aspects

Need is felt for urgent attention to formulate a firm policy to implement sustainable agricultural production program in the country. In policy statements on various sectors of the agriculture following aspects should be included to assure conservation and efficient utilization of soil and water resources.

In irrigated agriculture water losses from reservoirs and canals should be minimized, efficient field water management has to be promoted for increasing the water productivity through crop diversification and with new water saving techniques. In rain fed agriculture the unirrigable land mass of the country should be developed on watershed basis with proper soil and water conservation techniques, put into most suitable land use forms such as agro-forests, perennial orchards, field crop farms, mixed timber plantations, pasture lands etc. State resources should be mobilized to make these lands productive with sustainable rain fed agriculture to benefit farmers on short, medium and long run.
Organic farming should be encouraged to reduce adverse effects of agro-chemicals and inorganic fertilizer on environment and human health by expanding the organic farming sector, creating awareness in general public for consumption of organic products, generating new technology and certifying products, processing and packaging to earn foreign exchange and gain high price to the farmers. Integrated farming should be introduced to farmers for optimum use of their resources, year round steady income and effective use of residues.  The policy on integrated farming towards sustainable agriculture should be to improve village level productive farming, discourage artificial products and chemical use, familiarize livestock farming and encourage cottage industries to capture foreign and local market with traditional products.

Sustainable agriculture policy should stress the importance of conserving natural resources (land, water, forest, atmosphere etc.), while utilizing them effectively for agricultural production. All land users for agriculture should be encouraged for sustainable use of natural resources by awareness creation, making resources conservation compulsory, generation of improved technologies, safe and efficient management of rainwater, river, tank and groundwater.

Agriculture should be mechanized in all possible ways to reduce the cost of production and improve the quality of produce but with no harmful effects on natural resources such as wind and water erosion, increased water and soil nutrient losses, air pollution etc.

National policy on agriculture should emphasize the use of indigenous knowledge in agriculture, which ensures preserving and utilizing traditional crops and varieties, resources conservation practices, medicinal plants, cottage industries and agricultural heritage of the country.

Strategies to Achieve Sustainability in Agriculture

In implementing what is spelled out in a policy various strategies need to be identified.  Following activities need much attention to achieve sustainable agriculture production in Sri Lanka with special reference to soil and water conservation.

Lands potentially suitable for agriculture should be given priority for agricultural production to assure the land resource availability for future expansion of agriculture. Primary and secondary forest lands should not be exploited for any purpose other than development of forest vegetations. Decision makers of agricultural production planning should not consider only the national production requirement but also the sustainable production levels of resources including farmers. Thus, food production expectations should aim at national food security, but not always at reducing outflow of foreign exchange for food imports.

Increasing agricultural productivity should not jeopardize the land, water and other resources of the country. Since many ministries bear the mandate of conserving natural resources there is a necessity to establish a national advisory board for conservation of natural resources independent of political authority.

A national development plan for agriculture has to be prepared wherein integrated approach of agriculture, livestock and small agro-based industries is promoted. Any agriculture related activity implemented in the country should be a part of the national agriculture development plan. Committees should be established at provincial, district, divisional and village level to plan and implement the agricultural production program.  Farmers should be protected from adverse effects of free trade policies and globalization.

Reorientation of Research Agenda

In identifying areas for research under the theme of alternative agriculture for self reliance most essential knowledge urgently needed can be obtained by answering following ten research questions.

1.    How can the negative impacts of globalization and trade liberalization be managed locally to achieve sustainability in agricultural production?
2.    What land and water resources are available in quantity and quality in different parts of the country?
3.    How they could be developed and allocated for different purposes among competing interests?
4.    What governance framework and institutional mechanisms (policy, legal and organizational frameworks) are needed to create an environment for cost-effective interventions of sustainable agriculture?
5.    What is the relationship between poverty and environmental degradation?
6.    How poverty can be alleviated through sustainable agriculture?
7.    How can the impacts (environmental, social and economic) of land use changes be assessed?
8.    What combinations of technological and management strategies are needed to assure the utilization of natural resources effectively, efficiently and equitably for agriculture to alleviate poverty and enhance environmental security?
9.    How a community can feel and realize an improving process of sustainability?
10.    What Decision Support Information Systems are needed to empower the stake holders in implementing sustainable agricultural development programs?

Reorientation of agricultural research agenda from crop based to resource productivity based is essential to achieve sustainability. Promotion of endemic fruits, vegetables and medicinal products for both local consumption and foreign markets can be initiated through research. Knowledge on conservation of natural resources at present is dispersed and available in various institutions.  Gaps need to be identified where further studies are needed and organized by networking them so that any would have the access for utilization.

Theme talk made at the Tenth Annual Forestry and Environment Symposium held at Kabool Lanka International Training Center, Thulhiriya on 2nd and 3rd 2005 organized by Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura

A study on palmyrah (Borasus flabellifer) utilization pattern and socio- economic status of dependent livelihood in Mannar district of Sri Lanka

S Arulmageswaran, I M N Chandrasiri and J V Culas
Extension and Training Centre, Department of Agriculture, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Tha palmyrah palm (Borassus flabellifer L.) is a multipurpose tree of great utility, occurs extensively in Northern and Eastern part of Sri Lanka. This tree engages human labour in the industries around it irrespective of gender or age. This survey was carried out to study utilization pattern of palmyrah tree and assess the socioeconomic parameters of randomly selected 60 families registered in five co-operative societies of Mannar district.

This study revealed that 93 % of males and 7 % of females entirely engaged in this industry with the average of 1.2 persons from each family. The average monthly family income of study population was RS 11320 ± 318 rupees, comes under higher income group. When comparing the family income with the average household number of 5.8 ± 1.3 showed inadequacy to meet present expenditure. Further more, study showed that these families did not show much interest on children education and most of youngsters leave school before sitting General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level examination. 58 % of families were living in small or medium size cottage made up of timber and palmyrah leaves as roofing material.

Tapping of mature tree was main source of income. One male tapped 14 ± 2.7 trees per day with the average of 8 ± 1.2 liter of toddy per tree. They did not produce sweet toddy (unfermented sap) because of low demand. They normally market toddy (fermented sap) to their customers for drinking, co-operative society under palmyrah development board and for vinegar production. The price of toddy also varied from RS 6 to 20.00 rupees depending on quality. Apart from that, most of the tappers had to travel about 3 km out of co-operative boundary for tapping and selling their product. During off season and free time, they do timber carving, animal raring and palmyrah tuber production. Women did not actively engage in this industry except few workers in coir factory. Based on this study, it is concluded that this industry provides vast opportunity for further exploiting labour force in respect to production of beverage, sugar , alcohol, fibre, fuel wood, timber and row materials for handicrafts. As well as this study clearly stated that implementing innovative technologies with product diversification and opening new market channels are the necessary pre requisite of this industry in future.

Community Forestry in Nepal

Rachitha Silva

The people of Nepal are heavily reliant on subsistence agriculture and Forests are an integral part of the agriculture and lives of them. The concept of community forestry is primarily focused on encouraging and contributing to support rural livelihoods in terms of fuel timber for housing, fuel wood, and fodder for stock and leaf litter for composting among many other things.

The forest regulations were revised with community forestry concepts and role of the Govt. has changed from project implementer to promoter and facilitator, while the Forest User Groups (FUG) to be the new implementer of projects. So far, about 1million ha of forest (18% of total forest cover) are being managed by 13, 238 FUGs involving about 1.5 million house holds, which includes about 28% of the total population by year 2004.

The FUG managed Forests are growing and improving value of the resources. Forestry Development activities are carried out voluntarily by the users. The CF program brought a big contribution, not only in environment conservation, meeting basic needs and economic development. CF has contributed mainly to the improvement of forest condition and people’s livelihoods in three ways; Capital formation in rural communities, Policy and governance reform of various organizations and agencies, Contribution in the process of community empowerment and social change.

There are many unresolved issues and challenges in all areas of capital as well as governance. The SWOT analysis provides more in-depth details of Community forestry programs in Nepal.