Below is a quick summary of our many campaigns and projects carried out in July 2019.
Action against the destruction of forest in Handapan Ella Elephant Corridor, Sinharaja World Heritage Rainforest for a Water Bottling Plant
Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka took timely action to stop the clearing of forest in the environmentally sensitive Handapan Ella area which is used by the last 2 remaining rainforest elephants of Sinharaja as a corridor to travel between fragmented rainforests of Sinharaja and Delwala-Walankanda. Several acres of forests had been burnt down and backhoes/heavy machinery had been used to uproot indigenous plants, while natural rocks preventing soil erosion have also been removed. Following investigations conducted upon questioning the owner of the land it was revealed that plans for the construction of a water bottling plant had been formulated without conducting an environment impact assessment nor getting any approval from authorities. Upon exposing the issue via media and informing the Central Environmental Authority and Forest Conservation Department, further clearing has been stopped and a team from Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka are closely monitoring the situation.
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Bottled water plant poses threat to Sinharaja (Ceylon Today)
‘Colonel’ clears 8-acres in Sinharaja
Action against Namunukula Plantations destroying 40 acres of Rainforest
Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka reported and requested authorities to take action against Namunukula Plantations destroying 40 acres of rainforest to expand oil palm plantations in Walallavita, Kalutara District. This is an important catchment area bordering a protected forest reserve under Forest Conservation Department. More than 5 large Endemic Wal Del trees (Artocarpus nobilis) classified by IUCN as Endangered have been cut down along with many endemic creepers (large Pus Wel & Kiri Wel). Several streams have been destroyed in the process which supply water to 25 villagers living downstream.
Action against Large scale sand mining racket in Tukinhanwatta, Avissawella
Large scale sand mining racket in Tukinhanwatta, Avissawella that has been severely damaging the water catchment area and surrounding villages was exposed by Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka. Tukinhanwatta in Amithirigala is a water catchment and it supplies water to meet the needs of the residents of a number of villages. However, the large scale sand mining in the area has severely impacted this area. When area residents together with representatives of the Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka attempted to inspect the area they were denied entry by a group who are said to be from a contracted company who are working on the plot of land. Afterwards, the police arrived at the scene. The area residents allege that the sand smugglers in the area are backed by political powers. One of the villagers claimed that they have received information that it is being done by the brother of Minister Kabir Hashim. The residents claim that once all this is cut down that the people in the area will not have a single drop of water.
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Rakwana Reforestation Project Planting Endemic Trees to Extend Reforested Area
On Saturday July 5th, Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka volunteers were joined by a group of young students to plant endemic trees and extend the reforested area now more than 10 acres. We sincerely wish to Thank everyone who helped make this planting a success.
Campaign to annex unprotected forest land bordering Sinharaja Rainforest and declare Sinharaja World Heritage Rainforest Complex
Since 2012, Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka has been pushing Forest Conservation Department to annex unprotected forest land bordering Sinharaja Rainforest to stop the ongoing massive deforestation. Per Cabinet Directive in 2004, all forest land under Land Reforms Commission (LRC) bordering existing protected forest reserves such as Sinharaja, Knuckles etc were to be acquired by Forest Conservation Department and gazetted as protected forest reserves. More than 15 years has passed and we are still waiting on Forest Conservation Department to complete this task and gazette it, which involves granting protection to 2,500 hectares of highly bio-diverse rainforests in the Sinharaja World Heritage Rainforest Complex including the Handapan Ella area which is currently being cleared. Despite many visits with Conservator General and assistants as well as many letters over the years requesting to do same, we have only received excuses for their delay and inaction. With the Presidential elections coming soon, Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka is working on an ambitious campaign to lobby the presidential candidates to take action against the short comings of relevant departments tasked to protect our forests and wildlife and restructure / pass proposed laws & reforms with the long-term goal of protecting the remaining forest cover in the country.
Everyone needs to take some responsibility and join together to stop the ongoing massive destruction of our forests, rivers, streams, waterfalls and the pollution of air and water. If you can help, please call 0777771348 or email RainforestProtectors@gmail.com
Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka