COLOMBO (News 1st): Usually, the Sinhala-Tamil New Year comes along with heavy rain. However this time, we were instead visited by extreme heat.
Not just in Sri Lanka, the entire world is experiencing an unexpected environmental transformation and climatic change. Sadly, the future generations will have to accept this fate because the destruction caused for the sake of development and/or urbanization has ruined the ecosystem, the environment and large chunks of forests around the world.
According to Dr Ravindra Kariyawasam (Center for Environment & Nature Studies), Sri Lanka had a forest density of 82% in 1882. Fast forward to 2019, Sri Lanka’s forest density stands at a shocking 16.5%!
The people of Sri Lanka cut down 65.5% of the forests in a span of 137 years. Dr Kariyawasam says that this, maybe, due to the rise in population, development, construction of major dams and highways, and urbanization.
“The World Food and Health Organization ranked Sri Lanka as the 4th country with the highest rate of deforestation by 2010. We are holding the same position even now.” – he added.
Against such a backdrop where we are limited to mere terms as “Sustainable development” and “Green economy”, many development projects are underway, turning a blind eye to the prevailing environmental crisis.
Environmentalist Sajiwa Chamikara told News 1st that while Sri Lanka’s deforestation has reached an alarming level, mass development projects and urbanization is set to increase. “Wetlands in the country are being degraded. So we further advise, to pay more attention to turn to methods which would safeguard the environment,” he added.
What are the projects which have caused most of the environmental damage?
- Agricultural projects
- Multi-purpose irrigational projects
- Tourism projects
- Power generation projects
- Industrial projects
5000 hectares of land have been allocated just for the Sampoor coal power plant and for the Industrial Park project.
Dr Ravindra Kariyawasam recalled Sri Lanka’s highest recorded temperature last week as being 42 degrees (Celsius). He stated that if it increases by another 8 degrees, there will not be any paddy for rice or fresh mangoes to enjoy in ten years. “Like the people in Telangana, India, the people of Sri Lanka will have to die due to the increase of temperature,” said Dr Kariyawasam.
He stated that the signs of this fate are right before our eyes and that we continue to cut down trees which provide us with fresh breath regardless.
“This new year, gift your child a tree – so one day when we die, the plant which you gifted will provide air for your child to breathe.” – Dr Ravindra Kariyawasam