Written by Tharushan Fernando
25 Sep, 2016 | 8:21 pm
A country’s forest cover determines the survival of its people. However, actions of a group of people have seriously endangered Sri Lanka’s forest cover – causing us to constantly report on incidents of forest fires.
It appears that the forest fire situation has now grown to a national disaster of catastrophic proportions.
On September 1, a fire broke out on the Dumhela Hill in Adhikarigama, Hanguranketha. On the same day, a forest fire spread rapidly through the Yakalla – Udakallagama Reserve in Galenbindunuwewa.
On September 5, flames gutted vegetation in the Aththalapitiya Reserve in Dowa, Bandarawela.
On September 10, one of the most prominent forest reserves in the country, the Knuckles Reserve, fell victim to the raging infernos.
On September 11, fires broke out in the Randenigala – Rantambe reserve. A second wildfire broke out in the Knuckles range, ranked number 8 on the list of world heritage sites as well.This was the second incident in the area within the space of a week.On the same day, a wildfire quickly swept through the Kalawalaragama reserve in Monaragala, leaving behind a wake of smoke and ash.
Eighty acres of wooded land in the Gal-Oya and Hurulu Reserve were completely gutted on September 20.
Another wildfire broke out on September 22 on the Wadinahelayaya Hill in Malewana, Wellawaya in Buttala.
In the past nine months, 4000 acres of the country’s forests have gone up in flames.
Yet another inferno was reported on Sunday afternoon in the Indigollayaya Kandu Deka area in Bandaralitiya, Arakgama in Hanguranketha, reduced another 300 acres of forest land to ashes and embers.
At this moment, the blaze is spreading to Sangarajagama and Ma-Oya. The wildfire has also had a severe impact on crops cultivated by area residents. Cinnamon crops and chena cultivations have been completely destroyed. Villagers claim that no fire and rescue authority has taken steps to combat the spreading flames and douse the blaze.
While the villagers themselves attempted to save their crops and fight the flames, their attempts proved futile. The inferno continues to rage out of control. The Hanguranketha Police have arrested two people on suspicion of being involved in starting the fire.
Sri Lanka’s forest cover is the source of our unique bio-diversity and eco-systems. Furthermore, they play a crucial role in managing the country’s climate conditions and in preventing natural disasters as landslides. Doesn’t the destruction of these precious forest reserves, which are a national resource, amount to an Emergency National Disaster situation?
Wouldn’t regrowing these forests take hundreds of years? What is the real impact of these forest fires on our country and its people?
News1st wishes to convey a message to the relevant authorities – that immediate action needs to be taken in order to prevent more fires from erupting in forest lands, and that steps need to be taken to rectify and minimise the damage caused by the infernos.
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