The COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading extremely fast in Sri Lanka during the last couple of months, resulting in the country placed in lockdown and travel severely restricted. Despite these hardships, Rainforest Protectors Trust has been working towards expanding the protected area as well as securing existing protected area. During the months of February and March 2021 before current lockdowns were placed, Rainforest Protectors Trust carried out trail maintenance of forest land protected in January 2020. Several workers from the adjoining village were employed for the task thus giving back to the local community. Once the lockdown restrictions are lifted, we plan on planting native areca nut trees along the boundary to secure and create a live fence additionally benefiting wildlife.
Trustees of Rainforest Protectors Trust also visited a tract of private forest land adjoining Sinharaja World Heritage Rainforest and currently working towards acquiring it towards long-term conservation of the buffer zone. While the lockdowns have slowed the progress we are working diligently to prevent deforestation through acquisition and conservation of privately held forest land in the region.
Rainforest Protectors Trust which is currently 100% volunteer driven is also evaluating the possibility to expand our operations by obtaining services of a full-time staff member. Hundreds of acres of privately held forest land are currently under threat as well as the need to do regular patrols to secure already acquired and protected forest land. We would like to hear from protential donors towards this operations fund. Please email RainforestProtectorsTrust@gmail.com
We wish to thank all our supporters and hope more donors will join us to help protect Sri Lanka’s last remaining Wet Zone Forests, for our collective future!
The past year 2020 has been extremely difficult for all of us. The COVID-19 Pandemic took toll on many people but worse so was the destruction incurred on the Environment. During the various Curfews there was a significant increase in illegal activity within Protected Areas (PAs), including deforestation, encroachment and poaching as Wildlife Officers, Forest Officers and Environmental Officers were not able to conduct field operations. To make matters worse, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) took many harmful decisions leading to the destruction of countless Protected Areas (PAs). In addition the authority over an estimated 500,000 - 700,000 Hectares of Other State Forests (OSFs) and State Forested Lands (SFLs) was transferred from the Department of Forest Conservation (DFC), to District Secretariats (DSs) and Divisional Secretariats (DSDs), to be distributed on a priority basis for agricultural, industrial and other such "development" projects. The Sinharaja National Forest Reserve (UNESCO) in the Lowland Wet Zone and Knuckles Conservation Forest (UNESCO) in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka are both being significantly damaged due to conversion of historical foot paths and small trails into major roads, which are to be used by busses, lorries and heavy construction vehicles.
Even Wild Elephant Corridors were not spared during 2020. The Sinharaja - Walankanda Wild Elephant Corridor is the most scenic Wild Elephant Corridor in the country offering some of the best views to the human eye. Although untouched, many Private Forest Lands (PFLs) exist within the boundaries of this Wild Elephant Corridor. Sadly in 2020 one of the untouched Private Forest Lands was listed to be sold. Despite the best efforts by the Rainforest Protectors Trust (RPT), to protect this vital property situated within the Wild Elephant Corridor, a lack of enough funds prevented purchasing it in time. Due to the scenic location, the land was quickly sold and the new owner wasted no time in cutting down the Sub Montane Forest to grow tea and start construction activities for a hotel (see Photo 1). It is a stark reminder to all of us that we are fighting against time to protect these last remaining Lowland Tropical Rainforests and Sub Montane Forests, against those who only seek wealth in their life.
Despite these major setbacks in 2020, we at Rainforest Protectors Trust believe 2021 will offer hope. Special thanks goes to some of the individual donors who have supported our crowdfunding project thus far as well as our corporate sponsors. We look forward to significantly expand the protected wilderness areas within privately held forest lands (PFLs) in 2021. Seventeen acres of Private Forest Lands (PFLs) have been identified as priority conservation areas and we are currently working to secure these wilderness areas before they are lost forever. We wish to thank all our supporters and hope more donors will join us this new year to help protect Sri Lanka’s last remaining Wet Zone Forests, for our collective future!
Incidents of deforestation significantly increased during the last several months throughout Sri Lanka despite the Government pledge to protect the environment. Due to protests by environmentalists and concerned citizens, the Government scrapped plans to distribute (for agri / commercial purposes) approximately 500,000 hectares of forest land belonging to the State. However, threats to the World Heritage Sinharaja Rainforest continued with the widening (upto 20 feet) and expansion (upto 18km) of a road that was once a small foot path through the forest till the early 90s. Environmentalists believe this would be the beginning of increased encroachment and conversion of forest into tea plantations and urbanization. It is clear that we cannot rely on the Government to protect the rainforests, thus the effort to purchase and permanently protect privately held forest lands bordering the World Heritage Sinharaja Rainforest is more important than ever.
Rainforest Protectors Trust has identified several parcels of unprotected forest lands suitable for conservation in the area. To date, we have protected 2 parcels of forest lands rich in biodiversity, one adjoining a river and the other adjoining a stream. However, lack of funds are preventing us from purchasing additional private forest lands that are currently on sale and in danger of being clearcut. Therefore, we urge you to consider making a monthly recurring donation to our GlobalGiving Project even if it is for a small amount. All donations go directly towards purchasing suitable lands for conservation.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, poaching incidents in Sri Lanka recorded an exponential growth as lack of wildlife rangers on ground provided perfect opportunity for poachers and wildlife smugglers to carry out their illegal activities without any restriction. Unfortunately, this resulted in the loss of a very rare Melanistic (Black) Wet Zone Leopard, caught to a poachers snare in the Proposed Buffer Zone of Peak Wilderness Wildlife Sanctuary that later died due to the injuries. It is estimated no more than 3 or 4 Black Leopards remain alive in the country and the loss of this magnificent young and healthy male was a great loss. Worse, just 3 days later, the carcass of another lowland rainforest Leopard killed by a poachers snare was found in Neluwa between Sinharaja World Heritage Rainforest and the adjoining Dellawa Rainforest. The poacher had managed to extract the Leopard teeth and nails to be sold in the black market.
Both poaching incidents happened in private land withing the buffer zone of protected rainforests. Having lost more than 95% of the original rainforests, the remaining lowland and sub-montane tropical rainforest habitat is not large enough for the mega-fauna including the lowland rainforest Elephants and the rainforest Leopards resulting in these animals constantly moving within the buffer zone. This is a prime example of why the initiative carried out by Rainforest Protectors Trust to purchase and permanently protect the privately held forest lands within the buffer zone is vital.
As of June 15th 2020, we have raised close to half of the funds needed to purchase and permanently protect the beautiful 4.5 acre riverine rainforest within the buffer zone of Sinharaja World Heritage Rainforest. We have also identified an addtional 7 acres that is currently on sale nearby which is situated in an area frequently used by the rainforest Elephants of Sinharaja as a corridor to move between fragmented forest patches. Therefore, we are urgently trying to complete the current project with the intention of moving on to protect the additional acres soon as possible. We wish to thank all donors who contributed so far and hope you can help us reach the goal by getting your friends and family to support the project as well as by spreading the word.
On January 27, 2020, Rainforest Protectors Trust expanded its protected area through the purchase and permanent protection of a privately held highly biodiverse 2 acre rainforest bordering Sinharaja World Heritage Rainforest and within close proximity to its main entrance gate. The forest was in immediate danger of being clearcut for expanding tea plantations that has resulted in severe deforestation in nearby area. Through funding provided by MAS Active, Rainforest Protectors Trust was able to purchase and permanently protect this beautiful land under the Trust (Photos attached).
Our GlobalGiving project to protect the 4.5 acre riverine rainforest in Ilumbakanda bordering Sinharaja World Heritage Rainforest has so far raised approximately 40% of the funds necessary to purchase the property. We wish to thank all donors who contributed so far. Please help us reach the goal by getting your friends and family to support the project as well as by spreading the word.
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