Tell Government: Stop Deforestation in Wilpattu
Tell Government: Stop Deforestation in Wilpattu
Wilpattu Forest Complex is the largest forest area in Sri Lanka and it's composed of a diverse range of ecosystems including dry deciduous forests, thorny scrub jungles and wetlands. On 28 January 2013, this area is designated as Ramsar site by the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention) is made up of 7 forest reserves (Kallaru, Vilatthaikulam, Mavillu, Weerakulicholai-Elavankulam, Periyamurippu, Maraichukkkaddi, Veppal), 2 sanctuaries (Wilpattu North Sanctuary and Thabbowa Sanctuary) and a national park (Wilpattu National Park), which is also the oldest and largest national park in the country. These areas include 12 ecosystems and are just as important to the forest complex as the national park. This biodiversity hotspot is home to nearly 1,000 plant and animal species which include the Sri Lankan Elephant, Sri Lankan Leopard, Lankan Sloth Bear, Sri, Spotted Deer, Buffalo, Sambar and Mongoose. Wilpattu is not only famous for this rich biodiversity but also for its archaeological and historical importance.
After the end of the civil war, allegations had been made that parts of the reserve had been occupied to build houses by certain politicians in an attempt to settle People. Commerce and Trade Minister Rishad Bathiudeen contends that it was the people who had been forcibly driven away by the LTTE in 1990 in accordance with their ethnic cleansing policy who had returned to their original villages. Aerial images taken recently does show that a considerable portion of the forest has been opened up and a large number of small houses being built in the area. Now the deforestation has been successfully done by Minister Rishad Bathiudeen's guidance and orders initiated with help of past governments. Study revealed that Wilpattu forest complex has lost 19,524 hectares of its forest reserves within the last 26 years and the highest impact was seen in the upper Wilpattu forest where about 7.48% of the area has lost from forest to other land uses after the 2009.
New footage shows that around 100 acres of the Wilpattu Forest Complex buffer zone has been cleared using bulldozers for the cultivation of Aloe Vera on a large scale it is revealed. On the 23 of this month, Minister of Environment, Wildlife, Lands and Land Development, S. M. Chandrasena commenced construction of an anicut across the Panankanai Canal in Rajanganaya to carry out the proposed aloe vera farming project and Minister S M Chandrasena contributed to destroy the environment by driving a bulldozer himself. This is said to have been done under the patronage of a private company. This company is reported to be planning on commencing these projects island-wide with its main base in Rajanganaya, Yaya 18 in Anuradhapura.
According to the National Environmental Act of Sri Lanka, if any area of hectare (2.4 acres) of land in the country is used for a development or any other project, need to submit a preliminary Environmental Studies Report or Environmental Damage Assessment Report and approval should be obtained as required by the Central Environmental Authority. It is evident that the area under which the project is being carried out falls within the buffer zone of the Wilpattu National Park, which is in violation of the restrictions imposed by the National Environmental Act, the Fauna and Flora Ordinance and the Forest Conservation Ordinance. In addition, this is an area where archeological ruins are common and if such a large scale project is being done in this area, an archaeological damage assessment report should be obtained from the Commissioner of Archeology. But this project has not obtained an environmental assessment report and They have not obtained a license from the Central Environmental Authority for this aloe cultivation project.
Many of these ordinances have created the legal background necessary to protect the environment and national heritage, and all citizens have the right to advocate for it. Therefore, the company conducting the project must respect the rules enacted to protect the natural and national heritage of the country.
It is sad that the Minister of Environment, Wildlife, Lands and Land Development who appointed to protect the environment has taken the lead in such environmental destruction. Therefore, the attention of the President, Prime Minister and other relevant authorities should be taken into consideration regarding this deforestation. The project should be halted and a systematic study of this should be done and the land should be reforested. Also, the land lost after the illegal deforestation of the Wilpattu forest after 2009 should be formally mapped back to the forest. Such destruction should not be allowed to occur again anywhere in the country and the government should protect the forests and operate proper monitoring systems.
The Wilpattu is one of our greatest natural treasures-a place where natural and cultural diversity abound. It is humbling to think how little attention we give to the Wilpattu, despite its importance to the stability of the Earth's climate and the incredible array of wildlife it supports. So although the Wilpattu may not be in your backyard, it should be on your mind. Losing the Wilpattu means losing the home of millions of Fauna and Flora communities, precious habitats, and the fight against climate change. We need the forests of the Wilpattu to remain standing, not only to regulate the air we breathe, but to make sure that their destruction does not move us towards even greater crisis, and ensure that they remain intact for future generations.
Then raise your voice to save Wilpattu Forest Complex.