Sinharaja at risk: UNESCO wants probe

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) requested the Environment Ministry to investigate allegations that a road is being constructed in the Sinharaja Rainforest, which is listed as a World Heritage Site.

In a letter addressed to the Secretary of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment Anura Dissanayake, of which copies were sent to the Director Generals of the Departments of Forest Conservation and Wildlife Conservation, the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO (SNCU) Secretary General Premalal Ratnaweera requested the Ministry to look into the allegation and direct the relevant government institution to conduct a proper investigation.

Centre for Environmental and Nature Studies (CENS) Director Ravindra Kariyawasam told The Sunday Morning that a road was being constructed in the Kudawa area in the Sinharaja Rainforest with the support of the Department of Forest Conservation.

He alleged that the two metre-wide road was alleged to be constructed to facilitate the tourists.
Sinharaja was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve (MAB) due to its unique biodiversity.

The Sinharaja Rainforest has a unique ecosystem and is home to many endangered endemic animals and plants including several amphibian species we well, all in a single location.

Sri Lanka was tagged as one of 35 Biodiversity Hotspots of the world when considering factor of the number of species present in a unique land area, especially in tropical rainforests and cloud forests.