The Conservator General of Forests Mr. K.M.A Bandara, stated that media reports claiming that Sri Lanka’s Forest cover has decreased to 16%, are false.
He made this statement while responding to a query made by President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake with regard to the media reports. The Presidential Secretariat had focused its attention regarding these reports published in the media.
“Although there has been some reduction in the forest coverage due to various development activities and other human activities in the country, there has definitely been no decrease in the forest coverage up to 16% as stated in the media reports.” Conservator General of Forests said.
Method used to assess the forests should also have been mentioned in the presentation of data on forests in such reports, he further said. Furthermore, basic points such as definition of forests, the method of estimating forest size, and the estimation of forest size have also not been included in these reports, he added. “However, there is no source from which the relevant data was obtained in the media reports suggesting that the forest cover had decreased.”
The Conservator General further stated that if there is widespread forest destruction, as reported in the media, it should have been observed by the Department of Forest, the Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Sri Lanka Police, and the Sri Lanka Air Force, which monitors forests from the air. However, such extensive forest destruction has not been reported to any of these institutions. He also stated that the Forest Department is updating forest maps and that no such forest destruction was observed during those activities.
The assessment of forest cover is carried out every five years and the census conducted in 2020 is scheduled to be completed in June this year. According to the census conducted in 2015, the natural forests of Sri Lanka stood at 29.15% (1,912,970 hectares) of the total land extent.