A biodiversity hotspot in turmoil: Doing away with circular 5/2001 could have catastrophic consequences for Sri Lanka's forests

Document type

In 2017, Sri Lanka set a goal to increase its forest cover to 32% by 2030 (Sri Lanka UN-REDD, 2017). However, on November 4th 2020, the government published circular MWFC/1/2020 revoking the circular 5/2001 of August 10th 2001, one of the country's most crucial forest protection directives. The revocation of the 5/2001 circular could severely hamper this target, posing a threat of deforestation to a variety of ecosystems which are not part of any formally designated protected areas (PA) in Sri Lanka, also known as Other State Forests. This includes forested areas adjoining PAs which are crucial for habitat connectivity and standalone state forest lands. Such a retrograde step could have potentially catastrophic ramifications on Sri Lanka's declining forest cover. It would also severely weaken the country's commitments to inter alia, the UNREDD Programme, Kyoto protocol and CBD. We therefore call on the Government of Sri Lanka to urgently reconsider and reverse this decision.

Publication date (of file/URL)
4 December 2021
Sri Lanka