Latest report of the forest cover in the settlement area under the Musali Pradeshiya Sabha on the North of Wilpattu National Park

March 23, 2019

With regard to complains made by environmental groups on the land areas allocated for the resettlement of Muslim families under the "Uthuru Wasanthaya" programme in the Musali Pradeshiya Sabha region, north of the 131,667.1 hectare Wipattu National Park, and taking into consideration the relevant settlements and the sensitive eco system, HE the President Maithripala Sirisena had taken a decision.

Accordingly, in 2015 the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) was entrusted with the observation of the growth of the settlement The SLAF has conducted 178 surveillance operations since 22 December 2015. During these weekly air operations, it was observed whether settlements have made any intrusions into the Wilpattu National Park or any forest cover being exposed for cultivation purposes.

In 2015, a forest destruction was observed in Maritchukaddy area by the SLAF which was duly informed to relevant authorities. Immediate action was taken to stop the destruction reforest the affected areas. The SLAF has also taken measures to immediately inform relevant authorities of any human activity during all its air surveillance operations.

Forest fires and use of machinery also is closely observed during these air operations.

Under the Clause 3A of the Forest Conservation Act, HE the President Maithripala Sirisena had signed a Gazette Notification on 24 March 2017 announcing the Mavillu Forest Reserve that included Mavillu, Veppal, Karadikkuli, Maritchukkaddy, Wilanthikkulam and Periyamarippu areas which did not come under the Wilpattu National Park.

Taking into consideration all photos taken during air surveillance operations by SLAF over the years, it is observed that, since 2015 no forest cover has been cleared except the legally provided location to the people of Maritchkaddy, Kallaru and Mullikulam areas under the Musali Pradeshiya Sabha region north of the Wilpattu Park. The last air surveillance operation was carried out on 22 March 2019.