The Conservator General of Forests K.M.A Bandara, in response to a query made on the instructions of President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, has stated that media reports implying that Sri Lanka’s forest cover has decreased to 16% are false, the President's Media Division (PMD) said.
Highlighting that 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, he said thathe natural forests of Sri Lanka stood at 29.15% (1,912,970 hectares) of the total land extent according to the census conducted in 2015.
The Conservator General of Forests also said that although there has been some reduction in the amount of forests due to various development activities and other human activities in the country, there has definitely been no decrease in the amount of forests up to 16% as stated in the media reports.
According to media reports, if the forest area in Sri Lanka is 16% of the total land extent, then the existing forest area in the country should be 1,040,000 hectares. This means that 872,970 hectares of forests should have been destroyed during the seven years from 2015, which is 124,710 hectares per year and 341 hectares of forest destruction per day.
He also said that the method used to assess the forests should have been described in the presentation of data on forests. Basic points such as the definition of forests, the method of estimating forest size, and the estimation of forest size should have been mentioned in the report. 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.