Open Letter to His Excellency President Maithripala Sirisena

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Your Excellency,

The Federation of Environmental Organizations (FEO) of Sri Lanka is a non-political, non- partisan organization that provides a platform for connecting interest groups with a patriotic interest in safeguarding Sri Lanka’s natural heritage through conservation and advocacy.

The FEO has noted with pleasure Your Excellency’s commitment to safeguard the environment of Sri Lanka by ordering for the immediate stop to unregulated clearing of forests north of Wilpattu National Park. We also note that though the settlements that have become contentious issue are outside the national park, these communities will have to endure immense hardships in the future, with little access to essential services. They will also have to contend with human wildlife conflict (especially from elephants). Therefore, a more humanitarian option would be to find alternative lands with better access to essential services and livelihoods.

But, as a larger issue, in order to ensure that Sri Lanka’s environment is protected for future generations from unplanned land conversion, we take this opportunity to draw Your Excellency’s attention further, to other vital considerations:

  1. Your 100 Day Programme states that existing laws that safeguard our Protected Areas “will be effectively implemented without fear or favour”. We therefore request you to appoint a committee to review and investigate projects that violate the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO), Forest Ordinance and Coast Conservation Act. This committee should liaise with the Central Environment Authority (CEA) to ensure that these projects are compliant with appropriate environmental and social safeguards.
  2. We request you to impress upon all politicians, government employees and the general population that conserving our remaining forests is vital for the survival of this nation, its people, and development aspirations. Sri Lanka’s forested ecosystems have now dwindled to the bare minimum, and sustained supplies of water, a healthy and disease-free environment, and other ecosystem services that support the nation’s socio-economic integrity is dependent on conservation of these remaining forests. Therefore, development hereon must only be permissible if it is truly sustainable.

With great trust in your leadership and commitment to the future of Sri Lanka, The Federation of Environmental Organizations

CC. Prime Minster of Sri Lanka, Director General Department of Wildlife & Conservation, Conservator General Forests, Director General Central Environmental Authority, Director General Coast Conservation & Coastal Resource Management.

TRUSTEES

Dr.Rishani Gunasingha, Rohan Wijesinha, Rukshan Jayewardene,
Sharmini Ratwatte, Sunela Jayewardene, Radhika Philip, Rahula Perera.
CORE GROUP
Dr. Eric Wikramanayake, Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya, Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando, Manori Gunawardena.

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