For a country like Sri Lanka which is an island, it is truly important to maintain its forest cover as the forest cover plays a significant role in fresh water sources. The Forest Department has identified following forest types in Sri Lanka:
Sub Montane Forests
Lowland Rain Forests
Moist Monsoon Forests
Dry Monsoon Forests
Riverine Dry Forests
Sparse and Open Forests
These forest types play a significant role in country’s water cycle in different climate zones. Sri Lanka has three different climate zones including wet, dry, and intermediate climate. World famous forest sites and country’s largest forests are located throughout the country maintaining the water demand while providing several different benefits to people and both plant and animal species.
Specially, forests have a higher water holding capacity which helps to limit the flood around the area during rainy season. This feature also helps to sustain during dry season. However, people are not aware of the hidden benefits of these valuable forest lands. As a result, Sri Lankan forest cover is getting reduced daily due to forest fires, illegal tree felling for timber industry, forest destruction for cultivation, forest encroachments, and development projects. According to Forest Department early reports in forest cover assessment made in 1999, country has a total of 1.94 million hectares of forests covering 29.5% of the land area. By now, forest cover should be lower than the mentioned number. Therefore, Sri Lankan government aims to increase forest cover up to 32% within few years.
It is truly essential to increase the forest cover and also to implement strict policies and regulations regarding forest destruction. Conducting awareness programs related to forests also necessary in this era. All the rules and regulations should be relevant to everyone regardless of their class, power, or social status. There have been so many cases where the government did not take proper actions for forest crimes. When the situation is like that, village people and forest communities seek help from us, Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ). We have prepared a database using all the forest crimes complaints that we received from people and other sources. Depending on the situation, we try to reach all the relevant government agencies to tackle the issue. Similarly, based on the severity of the problem, CEJ will take legal action to halt forest destructions.