Thursday, October 15, 2015

Need for immediate action to protect the World Heritage Sinharaja Rainforest

Many letters have been written on the subject of protection of the Sinharaja Rainforest and its importance, however despite numerous petitions, complaints and existing policies regarding the protection of the forest, little or no action seems to have been taken to stop the ongoing destruction of this precious rainforest.

 As a resident living close by, I am witnessing on a daily basis the ongoing destruction. I would insist on immediate action regarding the following points:


Despite the forest looking full from the outside, in fact, within the forest, there are huge areas where logging has taken place. This is taking place on such a large scale that it is impossible that the forest rangers and officials are unaware of this. The officials are simply turning a blind eye to what is going on.

Border encroachment

The forest borders are constantly changing due to the tea plantations encroaching on the forest boundaries with tea planting within the forest. This is done in such a subtle way that it is is hard to notice. The tea is planted within the forest boundaries and then when he tea plants have matured and are seen to be part of an existing plantation, the trees are then cut down. If checked it is possible to see that the existing forest boundary today does not correspond to the official boundary map.


Illegal trapping of wild animals around and within the forest continues to take place despite the widely publicised incident of 5 rare black leopards being killed about 5 years ago. Extremely illegal wild bush meat is blatantly being sold in Deniyaya shops and other shops bordering the forest. These traps also create serious hazards to researchers and other explorers. Why are the shops selling illegal meat not punished for selling illegal meat and used to name the trappers who should be prosecuted?

Gem Mining

The search for precious stone or gems is a serious problem. Often well organised gangs financed by wealthy gem merchants are responsible for the activity. Large marshy areas are dug up and the vegetation destroyed. The open pits left after gemming are a danger to both man and wildlife.

Irresponsible behaviour of guides and Forest Rangers

Guides are constantly being accompanied by dogs on tours within the forest. One day I witnessed 15 dogs within the forest!! As representatives of the forest, these guides and rangers should know better than to enter the forest with dogs that undoubtedly cause damage to the wildlife. These guides and rangers also smoke within the forest and leave cigarette butts and rubbish in the forest. If we cannot trust our guides and rangers to act responsibly then we can hardly expect them to take on the responsibility of reporting others who cause damage. They are untrained and basically just accompany the tourists along the trails.

Actions of villagers

Villagers continue to use motorbikes on forest trails despite having access to a proper road. They also cut trees and gem mine at a level, which is beyond home use. This cannot be allowed to continue.

 Illegal tracks and entry to forest

Since the Deniyaya Rainforest Eco Lodge has been built, new unauthorised forest trails have been created for the Lodges guests to gain unauthorised entry to the forest. Once again the guides used to lead the tourists along these trails are acting irresponsibly and should be punished as well as the Lodge who organises these illegal treks into the forest. Since this entry point is not official, it enables the Lodge to take illegal entry fees from the tourists who are unaware that this is not an official entry point. These fees of course which should go toward the forest are entering the pockets of the hotel owners.

Where are the funds received from foreign aid, government and local council funds and entry fees, going to? They are certainly not going to fund training or programmes to educate the local guides, rangers or villagers who are a big part of the problem.

 It is a shame that the local community is not being used to help solve the problem instead of causing damage. Without the cooperation of the local community to monitor and report on illegal and /or irresponsible actions, the forest will remain vulnerable. Another problem: to whom should they or anyone else should, address complaints?

Despite officials knowing about the illegal activities that are taking place, no one has ever been fined or prosecuted for any illegal activity in the forest. It therefore makes no sense to complain to the existing officials under the present circumstances.

Call to Action:

Please give us responsible officials to oversee the Sinharaja rain forest. To protect our endemic species of fauna and flora from exploitation, bar all people conducting research in Sinharaja with the pretext of 舛onservation' who are actually engaged in Bio-piracy. Those who enter Sinharaja should be closely monitored and supervised by officials of Forestry department.

Do not allow the approval of permits by the State of Provincial Governments to build hotels or any other structure including roads within Sinharaja, near Sinharaja or its precincts.

The younger generation of Sri Lankan expats who have never seen or heard of Sinharaja, and young locals and foreigners who may have just heard of Sinharaja, who have signed the petition to safeguard Sinharaja show the keen interest they take when it comes to worldly environmental issues and their commitment to save the planet.

Thank you.

Sidney Karunawardana

Save the Sinharaja Rainforest Campain,


The sinharaja rainforests of Sri Lanka threatened!
Sinharaja is a World Heritage Site, you could thing it is protected by Unesco. Still it is getting smaller every year and in 20 years many animal species will get extinct if the cutting of trees for tea will continue in this pace.

please give your support

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