Written by Lahiru Fernando
30 Oct, 2016 | 11:24 pm
This is a News 1st exposé on mass deforestation taking place in Lahugala, in the Yala and Kumana National Parks. News 1st correspondent Sulakshana Piyatissa, accompanied a group of environmentalists researching deforestation.
The journey commenced in the village of Kotiyagala in Siyambalanduwa, Monaragala where we were welcomed by a scenic eco-system as we entered the Kotiyagala Reserve area.
We reached a catchment area of Heda Oya and Kumbukkan Oya. It is home to valuable and diverse flora and fauna. However, what we witnessed were distressing scenes just three kilometers into the protected reserve. Deforestation…..
Environmentalists claim that the total area that has been cleared, amounting to more than 30,000 acres.
Locals who wished to remain anonymous claim that officials of the Forest Conservation Department have provided these lands to external parties for chena cultivation and to grow cash crops.
“As per the law, special permission is required from the Central Environment Authority to clear an area larger than two and a half acres. This has not happened in this case”, said environmentalist, Attorney-at-Law Jagath Gunawardena.
Our footage bears testament to the fact that the forest has also fallen victim to timber racketeers.
While boundary markers put up by the Department of Wildlife have been removed, environmentalists also claim that the destruction is taking place with the knowledge of the officials at the Monaragala District Office of the Forest Conservation Department.
In a backdrop where Sri Lanka’s forest cover has fallen to 16 percent, is it not imperative that the competent authorities, act at least now, to protect such bio-diverse eco systems?
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