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President orders road development in Sinharaja protected zone to be stopped

The government has given the green light for this road to be cut through the pristine UNESCO protected Sinharaja Rainforest

ECONOMYNEXT-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered road construction taking place in the buffer zone and inside the Sinharaja World Heritage Site be immediately halted, a statement issued by the Road Development Authority (RDA) said.

The RDA in a statement issued yesterday Aug 18, said the building of an 18 kilometre road from Neluwa, Galle to Lankagama running through the Sinharaja forest was started as a request from the residents in the area.

However, President Rajapaksa has instructed the Minister of Agrarian Services & Wildlife to suspend any developments that will damage the Sinharaja protected zone.

In the statement issued by the RDA said no development has or will take place in the road of 1.1 kilometres inside the Sinharaja zone.

The decision was taken after the Centre for Environment and Nature Studies (CENS) in Sri Lanka, protested against the construction of a road in the buffer zone and inside the Sinharaja World Heritage Site.

CENS said the same project began in 2013, but was stopped thereafter by the UNESCO.

In an earlier report, Ravindra Kariyawasam of CENS said a complaint was sent to UNESCO after the Sri Lanka Army Engineers started the constructions on August 10.

The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a unique remaining virgin tropical rainforest in Sri Lanka.

It is of international significance and has been designated as a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The hilly virgin rainforest, part of the Sri Lanka lowland rain forests Ecoregion, was saved from the worst commercial logging by its inaccessibility and was designated as a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1989.

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The IUCN report notes that ‘The value of Sinharaja as a natural world heritage site continues to be recognized by the discovery of several endemic species of plants and animals since the declaration of this forest as a world heritage in 1988. (Colombo/ Aug 19/2020)

Reported by Chanka Jayasinghe