Post: 26-07-2020 Categories: Forestry News / Let’s Save half a million hectares of forest by protecting circular No 05/2001
The entire forest population of Sri Lanka is protected, developed and managed under the Forest Conservation Ordinance as well as the Wildlife Conservation Ordinance. A specific portion of this total forest population has been declared as National Reserves and Sanctuaries under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance and another portion has been declared as Conservation and Reserve Forests under the Forest Conservation Ordinance.
In addition, Article 20 of the Forest Conservation Ordinance protects other forests that do not fall under the protected or reserved or rural jungles declared under the Forest Conservation Ordinance. These forests are commonly referred to as "residual forests." According to the Forest Conservation Ordinance, "forest" is defined as "all government-eligible land" and "all government-eligible land" means a government land that is legally acquired or owned by a government grant or leasehold. All other lands except. Thus, the remaining forests include ecologically sensitive ecosystems as well as areas that have not been developed in various ways. The protection of natural resources including forests and other public lands is mainly protected under section 20 of the Forest Conservation Ordinance.
This article explains the controversy surrounding the abolition of Circular 05/2001 issued by the Ministry of Environment regarding the management of state forests, which has been raised by various parties regarding the threat to the country's natural forest cover. Circular 05/2001 is a circular making administrative provisions on the management of all national forests, sanctuaries, reserves and other non-protected forests published under the Wildlife Conservation Ordinance and the Forest Conservation Ordinance.
The government's regulation of the remaining forest administration dates back to British rule, and until the end of the 18th century, part of the state's jungle was in the custody of conservationists and another in the care of government agents. In 1904 the custody of all the forests was placed under the Forest Conservancy and again in 1934 it was divided.Both the Government Agent and the Forest Conservation Department controlled the jungles, but at that time, they had to enforce laws to ensure their safety.
In 1952, 500 acres (200 ha) of the dry zone and 50 acres (20 ha) of other areas were taken over by the Government Agents and all other forests were brought under the control of the Conservator of Forests.
Re-emphasizing the problematic situation of providing protection to the remaining forests through the then Divisional Secretariat Administration which was formed back in 1998, the extent of forest lands under the control of the Divisional Secretaries was 200 acres (80 ha) in the dry zone and 20 acres (8 ha) in the wet zone under the direction of the President. The Ministry of Forest Resources and Environment issued the circular no. However, the Government further considered the protection of the forests and issued Circular 5/2001, which is currently under discussion, entrusting the management of all remaining forests under the control of the Divisional Secretaries to the Department of Forest Conservation.
It had introduced a policy that would be applied to the development of all the state's artifacts to be handed over to the Department of Forest Conservation.
Another circular issued in 2006 entitled 02/2006 introduced a new method of handing over lands which were under the control of the Forest Department to the Divisional Secretaries due to this circular which does not have forest features.
Circular 05/98 or 05/2001 were not issued in accordance with the proposals of the Forest Department and were taken by the Government in response to the issues that arose during that period regarding the protection of government forests. It is learned that a Cabinet paper was tabled in 2012/2013 to amend these circular provisions but it was not implemented at that time. Instead of simplifying and facilitating the process of handing over to the Divisional Secretaries the control of lands which are not identified to be conserved for environmental reasons or other special reasons which are not characteristic of the jungle, the management of all remaining forests should be excluded from the Department of Conservation. These can have extremely detrimental consequences.
Circular 05/2001 thus imposes provisions for the administration and management of all remaining forests, creating some confusion in terms of the definition of “forest” in the Forest Conservation Ordinance.
The reason is that the forest is defined in the Forest Conservation Ordinance as "allowable land" and according to the Forest Conservation Ordinance; about 80% of the total government land in the country should be recognized as a State Forest.
However, since the days of imperialism, such an interpretation has existed to provide legal protection to natural resources, including trees, on all state lands. By punishing a punishable offense. As per the Forest Conservation Ordinance, the Divisional Secretaries also have the power to enforce the law to protect the forests as they have the powers of “Forest Officers” and this was emphasized by Circular 05/2001.
It is also worth noting that the majority of Divisional Secretaries are also responsible for the forests. However, controlling the rest of the forest for easy allocation for development activities can lead to environmental problems. Therefore, the best course of action is to designate the remaining forests in the country (currently protected by the Forest Conservation Ordinance as protected, protected or other non-rural forests).
Vision of Prosperity According to the environmental policies of the manifesto, the areas devoted to the uplift of biodiversity and forest cover, as well as the restoration of all state land directly to the Divisional Secretaries, including sensitive areas including catchment, river and canal-protected, archaeological and historical value areas. According to the Wildlife Conservation Trade Organization, conservation needs as well as development needs can be met without any problems. Similarly, all the remaining forests have been given to the Divisional Secretaries for the purpose of canceling the 5/2001 circular or for the purpose of reservation of land for development purposes. This decision will not lead to disaster and will not facilitate sustainable development as it will have to comply with the provisions of the State Lands and Minerals Act. The government has not yet issued an official cabinet statement that Circular 05/2001, which protects the remaining forests, will not be repealed. Doesn't that show that 500,000 hectares of forest land, including the Sinharaja regions, are still at risk?
We have seen many countries use their land arbitrarily and make mistakes. And we also see how the countries that have so worked hard are now trying to recover.Today we have to decide whether we will allow hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest to be destroyed in the same way. The fate of half a million hectares tomorrow is in your hands. And the future fate of your future will depend on the survival of that remaining half a million hectares of forest system.