Trends and process of Kithul tapping as an aspect of forest utilization

The Sinharaja forest reserve is one of the least disturbed and biologically unique Tropical Wet Evergreen Rain Forests in Sri Lanka located in the Southern as well as Sabaragamuwa provinces in the wet zone.In addition, the
forest reservation comprises two isolated villages located within it and twenty-five villages at its vicinity. Many of the villagers from these villages have practiced Kithul tapping over years. The study area of the research- Warukandeniya is one of the villages situated within the southern division of the forest and sited in Nelluwa divisional secretariat in Galle district. The foremost objective of the research is to study and analyze the trends and process of Kithul tapping as one of the methods of forest utilization and to critically overview its impact on
the forest reservation. In the study participatory observation, interviews, semi- structural interviews, questionnaires and case- studies were mainly used as the research methods. In accordance with the research findings, the process of kithul tapping can be recognized as both economic and cultural practice. Most of the kithul groves within the forest area or at the vicinity are inherited and the ownership of these groves has been passed from father to son over generations. Further, even though the sudden economic boom occurred in 1970s at the buffer zones of Sinharaja because of tea plantation was able to hinder the need for kithul tapping as a source of income generation, still the practice of kithul tapping holds a noticeable importance as one of the major economic activities in the study area. In addition, as contemporary trends in Kithul tapping, use of modern technology, lack of quality maintenance in production and renouncing the traditional ways of kithul tapping can be identified. Additionally, it is clear that corresponding to the changes arise in the process of kithul tapping the associated cultural and social aspects are subjected to vary.

H.I.G.C. Kumara and R. A. W. D. Jayawardena
University of Ruhuna