FfP adopts a strong approach to homegardens development (analog forestry) and involves the school children in this activity. Analog forests are complex plantings of diverse species designed to mimic the natural forest in structure, ecological functioning, and over time, the successional processes. At the same time, analog forests should provide a stream of products and other benefits to the owner.
This is also an attempt at species conservation through landscape plantings in schools and public places where seedlings can be protected. FfP will maintain the demonstration plot. Mother trees donated by Helvetas in 1990 produce scions for grafting onto local rootstock. At each well 500 seedlings will be raised for planting out in the rainy season to help alleviate periods of food insecurity and to improve children’s health and nutrition. Forest gardens usually yield an annual income after the first four years. Maintaining homegardens is traditionally women’s work. They have direct economic benefits from this and their walking distance to collect fuel wood is reduced.
Water, soil and forests are interlinked. To begin with, FfP concentrated on helping reforest the locality by encouraging the planting of a range of trees on farm plots and around houses. This came from the idea of copying the structure of forests with useful species (analog forestry) or from traditional home gardens. This activity is now integrated into protecting water-sheds, and using the availability of water for maintaining tree nurseries. Sustainability is improved by linking water supply, soil protection and tree cover. The local economy is improved by a greater diversity of crops and products such as timber and medicines.
Tree planting in village homegardens began in 1989 sponsored by the British High Commission, Colombo. This involved setting up a Strategic Nursery Networks.