Sri Lanka mini-hydro power plants seen threat to forest eco-systems

ECONOMYNEXT – The construction of mini-hydro power plants pose threats to Sri Lanka’s forest eco-systems, two environmental scientists told an international research symposium, calling for changes to regulations to ensure more safeguards.

The scientists have recommended that mini hydro power plants must not be established within forest reserves and that no diversions be allowed from immediate upstream of waterfalls.

Small  hydropower plants alter the water flow in streams, expose stream beds, stop fish movements and affect waterfalls, according to the researchers, E. I. L. Silva and E. N. S. Silva.
 
They also result in changes to stream habitats, erosion of river  banks and could gradually eliminate forests.

Penstocks and concrete canals are more injurious on forest vegetation than tunnels, according to the researchers.

Diverting water using tunnels also do not allow lateral transport of moisture which is necessary for forest eco-systems, they said in a presentatin at the forum.

Both penstocks and concrete canals prevent lateral transport of moisture and root penetration of canopy trees, the scientists told the forum on valuation of forest eco-systems.

“The negative effects of small hydropower operation on forest ecosystems  are obvious,” they said.

The scientists have recommended that existing regulations on construction and operation of  mini  hydro schemes be  amended within a  stringent  legal  framework  to ensure sustainability of forest reserves.

They have called for the impacts of  mini hydro development  on the hydrological  network  of mountain landscapes to  be analyzed in a holistic manner.
(COLOMBO, Oct 21, 2016)
 

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