Feb 20, Colombo: Borders of Sri Lanka's World Heritage Site, Sinharaja rainforest reserve have been expanded to add over 2000 hectares of land to the forest, the Land and Land Development Ministry said today.
The government has taken over 2,488 hectares of the surrounding land that has direct impact on the forest to broaden the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Addressing a media briefing, Land Development Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon said that the government has taken over the surrounding land de-forested and encroached by the by the residents who live at the forest borders for tea-cultivation.
The Minister said the old borders were re-drawn and expanded and the government will take measures to remove the squatters.
"If there are people who are still encroaching on forest lands, the Forest Department will conduct raids and take care of it soon as they receive a complaint," Minister Tennakoon told the media.
The Minister says that the moves are aimed at preserving the world heritage rain forest and to protect it for the future generations.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988.
The reserve is only 21 km (13 mi) from east to west, and a maximum of 7 km (4.3 mi) from north to south, but it is a treasure trove of endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.