Sri Lanka: Demand stronger environmental protection for ancient Nilgala forest
Sri Lanka’s ancient Nilgala forest is being ripped up to make room for cash crops. Put pressure on Sri Lankan authorities to strengthen environmental protection for this precious area.
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Land grabbing is threatening to devastate Nilgala forest. The forest, known for its medicinal plants, is being torn up to make way for cash crops such as rubber, sugarcane, plantains and rambutan.
Instead of preventing the land grabs, local politicians appear to be encouraging and benefiting from the destruction. Opportunistic land grabbers have sprayed weed killers in the delicate forest, killing undergrowth and medicinal plants. Some of these trees, such as Aralu, Bulu and Nelli, are invaluable, rare and have been growing in the area since King Buddhadasa’s reign in the fourth century .
Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka/ Centre for Environmental Justice organized a massive ceremony on January 11 this year to raise public awareness. The ceremony took a special and relatively new approach to forest preservation techniques: the trees were ordinated (similar to consecration or sanctification) in a Buddhist ritual.
- We demand an end to all land encroachments initiated in the past few years. We also demand an immediate halt to the destruction of the forest and to its conversion into cash crop plantations.
- We also demand that Nilgala Forest be placed under the protection of the Forest Ordinance or under the Fauna and Flora Protection ordinance and the forest demarcated.
- We urge the Forest Department to establish a proper forest protection mechanism for Nilgala and set up a Forest Office with adequate staff to protect and preserve the Forest.