One step forward to preserve Sinharaja

Environmental Foundation Limited (EFL) presents another publication “A Review of the Southern Border of Sinharaja”, co-written by F. Hafsa A. Hudha and Anushka Gunawardena. This is a presentation of the contemporary needs against the backdrop of rainforest conservation.

The launch of the said publication took place on Friday, 7 December and the event was graced by EFL Chairperson and Conservation Biologist Dr. Eric Wikramanayake, Conservator General of Forest and Guest Speaker Anura Sathurusinghe, and renowned Sinharaja conservationist Prof. Savitri Gunatilleke.
We sat down with the co-author of this publication F. Hafsa A. Hudha to discuss the inspiration and vision behind this publication, and this is what we found out:


The book cover’s three aspects are the laws, a little bit of history, and a few recommendations on how to go about sustainable forest management. “We looked at the discrepancy between the conservation laws and the development laws, and how to achieve an optimum benefit whilst trying to preserve it within the existing legal framework,” elaborated Hafsa.
In the introduction, the book explores the importance of this dialogue, then moves on to the conservation laws at place in the country, then the international laws and the framework with regard to the developmental laws, followed by an evaluation of this information presented. Then the impending threats against Sinharaja are discussed and finally the recommendations; Sustainable Forest Management and how it can be evaluated.
“We believe that this is an ideal source of information to be used for further research on Sinharaja,” added Hafsa.

Why Sinharaja?
Because of its uniqueness, this is the largest virgin forest in Sri Lanka. The climates in the northern and southern sides are vastly different. So, there is a great deal of benefits it brings to the environment as a whole. While it is one of the largest evergreen rainforests in the country, Sinharaja has a range of dimensions to it. Various local and international organisations are carrying out research on the substance of its surroundings. Therefore, this is a solid source for research in environmental spheres.

Why now?
“For conversation about conservation, it is important to understand the need to conserve; the significance of these ecosystems. That is what we are trying to achieve from this book,” said Hafsa. She further added: “For us to be able to prioritise what we need and to make sound decisions, we have to have the right information. That is what we are aiming to do with this publication. It is also very important at this point of time, due to the fact that Sri Lanka is gradually becoming a hub for investments, that we manage our investments to safeguard the pristine ecosystems in our country.”

About the research
The primary source of information on the book is the existing literature on the subject. Commenting on the research, Hafsa stated: “While conducting a literature survey for the Rainforest Rescue International, we came across a lot of the information. Further, we carried out independent interviews with organisations that are in the process of doing different projects with regard to Sinharaja, including the Forest Department of Sri Lanka. We conducted a site visit to Sinharaja as well and got first-hand information from the Sinharaja Sumithrayo organisation.”
The research was carried out over a period of one year and it can be described to be qualitative as well as quantitative facts.

Authors and contributors
The publication has two main authors: F. Hafsa A. Hudha and Anushka Gunawardena. In addition, there are three key contributors: Piyumani Ranasinghe, Harindi Palkumbura, and Gayantha Wickramaratne. The contributors are responsible for most of the research and the structuring of the contents, and the book layout was done by the two authors.

How is this book special?
“We have tried to draw a linkage on achieving the international standards of environment protection such as the rules on climate change, the sustainable development goals, and the conservation of Sinharaja,” Hafsa said. She further added: “We have worked closely with the Forest Department during our research and we have included their project on creating a Forest Complex in the Sinharaja.”

The audience
The language of the book is greatly simple; the use of complex terminology has being avoided in most occasions, aiming to reach a diverse spectrum of readers. The book can be purchased at EFL for a price of Rs. 750. However, students of local universities are given this publication for a discounted rate of Rs. 500.

Photos Saman Abesiriwardana