Oct 12, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena says while the country's forest density decreased during almost every single government in the past, it has increased during the last four years due to the programs implemented by the government to protect the environment and increase the forest resources.
Addressing the inauguration of the 'Wana Ropa' National Tree Planting Program at the Habarana, Galoya Reserve Saturday morning, the President said that while all sectors of the country were plagued by corruption, politicians, racketeers, businessmen and public officials were responsible for the enormous environmental catastrophe that has taken place over the past few decades.
In parallel to the 'Punarudaya' National Environmental Protection Program which is being implemented by the Presidential Secretariat since 2015, the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and the Environment and Forest Department together with all government and non-governmental organizations launched the 'Wana Ropa' National Tree Planting Month in October.
The Forest Department is rehabilitating 100 hectares of forest in the Habarana Gal Oya Reserve, under the patronage of the Bank of Ceylon, to mark the 80th anniversary of the Bank of Ceylon. It aims to plant 80,000 tree saplings covering 100 hectares of degraded dry areas.
The 'Wana Ropa' program is in line with the United Nations Climate Change Convention to increase the country's forest cover to 32 percent by 2030 and has implemented several special projects this year to increase the country's forest density.
President Sirisena planted a sapling in the reserve, starting the Tree Planting Month in this year.
The President signed declarations to name the Matale, Kandy, Kurunegala and Nuwara Eliya Districts, gazetting 9,900 hectares as protected forest and 14,800 hectares of mangroves as protected and reserve forests.
The President also signed a gazette notification announcing the reservation of the Gal Oya Reserve which is adjacent to the Colombo - Trincomalee highway in the Habarana area in the Polonnaruwa district.
State Minister Ajith Mannapperuma, Mahaweli development and environmental Ministry, Director General W.A.C. Weragoda, Department of Forest Conservation, Central Bank Chairman President's Counsel Ronald C. Perera and several others were also present in this occasion.