The historically recognised forest-dwelling Vyadhas are self-designated Vadda people who are commonly referred to as Vanniyelatto or Advises in the present-day. Their non-sedentary agricultural practices are attributed to a forest dependent livelihood. A respect for, and ability to co-exist in harmony with the complex natural environment that has provided them with essential life-giving resources is exemplified in the life ways of these and comparable forest-dwelling people the world over.

Vadda communities as forest-dwellers were recognised among other diverse occupational social or caste groups including drummers, potters, farmers (fishers), cattle herders and members of the royal court, among others.  These diverse groups combined to influence the social makeup of the islands recorded history for over 2300 years under the Sinhalese kingdoms of the Dry Zone. Each of these occupational (caste) groupings was assigned a specific role in society that blended for mutual dependence to create an effectively functional and resourceful society. Similarly, the Vadda people served a defined role whether in the capacity of huntsmen, trustworthy guardsmen or tradesmen, recognised by royal decree throughout the lengthy Sinhalese kingdoms and owed allegiance to the King.

External cultural influences have, since European colonization and the post-independent period, led to varying degrees of change. Some occupational groups have lost their functional characteristics in the present-day and some exist in name only, while others are sustained through tradition and continue to serve a meaningful role within the recognised local social and cultural setting.

A National Policy on Traditional Knowledge was developed to address the issues pertaining to the conservation of traditional life supporting systems to facilitate the livelihoods of traditional communities as the forest custodians. The proposed Strategy and Action Plan serves as a framework of policy designed as a pilot programme for the livelihood recovery and food security of vulnerable forest dependent peoples living in the peripheries of designated Protected Areas. It serves as the financial mechanism for implementing a national programme with UNDP GEF-SGP and other international donors such as the World Health Organisation, among other organisations. At the same time, it addresses relevant national policies including wildlife and forest conservation and international agreements such as the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), among others of relevance.  The Inter-agency Working Group was established to coordinate the proposed plan of action under the Biodiversity Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment and its line departments, jointly coordinated by the Centre for Eco-cultural Studies (CES) with the support of other concerned stakeholders.

The policy was also derived from a need to protect the rights of traditional forest-dwelling indigenous and local communities (ILC) eroded with mainstreaming efforts in modernisation and laws for conservation that have seriously threatened their livelihoods. It endorses planned initiatives for socio-economic enhancement and cultural and environmental conservation through participatory community initiatives for direct, long term and maximum benefit of the communities concerned.

Vadda Brochure , Cultural Panel , IP Presentation SL at NRM Regional Dialogue Chiang Mai 2007 GO Presentation SL at NRM Regional Dialogue Chiang Mai 2007 , The Indigenous World-2008 , Sri Lanka Status Report , The Indigenous World-2012 , Sri Lanka Status Report

PROJECTS
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    Integrated Eco-Cultural Resource Management Programme

    The project facilitates development of a model for sustainable management of eco-cultural resources in the environs of Protected Areas with local communities and serves as a case study for developing a strategy for local community participation in eco-cultural resource management in Sri Lanka.
    This programme provides opportunities to develop skills and promotes non-destructive nature-based local enterprises such as bee keeping, eco-cultural tourism development, traditional art and craft productions, local food, grain, etc., development of home gardens analogous to the surrounding environment, planting of native and threatened species, enrichment of  habitats and maintaining of biodiversity in the area and raising awareness among local communities and visitors of the importance of conserving natural and cultural properties. The programme involves minimising prevailing conflicts between the elephant and human populations with the establishment of the Human-elephant Conflict Resolving Committee in the Sigiriya wildlife sanctuary, in addition to assisting the threatened local human and elephant populations resident in the area. The programme was launched with the financial support of the Community Environment Initiatives Facility (CEIF) of the Ministry of Forestry & Environment in November 2000 and  further extended to incorporate the traditional settlements of Pidurangala and Talkote in Sigiriya, with the financial assistance of the Small Grant Programme of the Global Environment Facility (GEF/SGP) in December 2001 as a pilot study in seeking  community participation in managing wildlife Protected Areas and cultural heritage sites such as the Sigiriya World Heritage Site

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    Community Knowledge Services (CKS) Sri Lanka

    CES facilitates and coordinates the CKS Sri Lanka programme on behalf of the local network for (CKS) Asia and CKS international, in collaboration with partner agencies.  CKS is a programme being developed by community leaders from Asia Pacific, African and Latin American regions, in collaboration with
    Ecoagriculture Partners and UNDP Equator Initiative. The goal is to enable local community representatives to share their expertise more broadly, and apply newly acquired knowledge to strengthen and scale-up their work to enhance livelihoods, while sustaining and conserving biodiversity.
    CKS Sri Lanka Launching Report

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    Landcare Sri Lanka

    Landcare is a widely adopted approach in integrated natural resource management (NRM). It centres on community groups working together to rehabilitate highly degraded landscapes using novel, but practical science-based agroforestry and natural resource management techniques.It also focuses on empowering local people to willingly take action to address local problems.Landcare is supported to varying degrees,
    by governments, non-governmental agencies and the private sector. CES in coloboration with Landcare International Secratariat launched the Landcare Sri Lanka Programme in 2008 as a pilot programme to assit in achieveing economic and environmental benefits through numerous community-based NRM initiatives in Sri Lanka. As in Phase I of the programme, CES in collaboration with other stakeholders conducts various capacity building programmes and services involving theoretical and practical aspects of NRM-related landcare techniques.
    Landcare Concept note

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    Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) Programme

    The IDP support programme initiated by CES aim to promote a rights based approach to ensure rights of living in a sustainable environment, with a special focus on youth. The target groups concerned were displaced people of the North and East who are victims of the civil conflicts and the subsequent development activities initiated.
    The programme entails capacity building through vocational training, career guidance as well as provision of emergency assistance varying from primary health care and water and sanitation facilities to temporary and semi-permanent shelter constructions during the humanitarian operation in the North and East.The programme was organised and set up by CES with the technical and financial support of the Confidence Building and Stabilisation Measures Project (CBSM) of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights. The extension of the programme has ensured its sustainability through partnership building with  other concerned Government and Non-governmental agencies.