By Ajithlal Shanthaudaya
Forest Conservators Professional Organisation has requested the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa not to abolish the Ministry of Environment circular no. 5/2001 that provided protection from racketeers who devastated the forest reserves under the pretext of obtaining land for development projects.
Secretary of the Forest Conservators’ Professional Organisation Lalith Gamage in a press communiqué yesterday said the transfer of forest management to the Divisional Secretaries by abolishing the circular would endanger a host of highly sensitive environmental zones with biodiversity that demands protection through scientific management.
The organisation of Forest Conservators pointed out that the Forest Conservation Ordinance had empowered the Divisional Secretary as “Forest Officers” and that it had been confirmed by the 05/2001 circular.
“Majority of Divisional Secretaries act with a high sense of responsibility to provide protection to the forests. However, the abolishing of the circular to bring the forests management within the purview of the Divisional Secretaries to facilitate the availability of land for development activities would result in a series of environmental issues” Secretary of the Organisation said.
The Forest Conservators Professional Organisation further said the most appropriate step to find land for development in view of the government’s environmental policies as indicated in the policy statement “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour, was to bring under the purview of Divisional Secretaries all state land excluding forest reserves managed as highly sensitive environmental zones with bio-diversity, areas protected to enhance the forest cover, catchments of rivers, canals, waterfalls and other water resources, areas of archaeological and historical significance that should be scientifically managed.
The organisation further said the decision to abolish the Ministry of Environment Circular 05/2001 to find land for development would only lead to wanton destruction of forest reserves instead of facilitating sustainable development
- the decision to abolish the Ministry of Environment Circular 05/2001 to find land for development would only lead to wanton destruction of forest reserves