A few thoughts on the plight of our forests

Rain forest

Many of us seem to ignore the dangers of deforestation and the resultant loss of endemic species of flora and fauna in Sri Lanka. When the British took over the island in the early in the early 19th century it was said that our forest cover was round 80 percent. Starting in the 1830s, the British cleared large tracts of forest mostly in the hilly central region forest for cinchona and coffee and later for tea and rubber plantations. By the time the British left the island in 1948 the forest cover was down to about 54 percent. Over the past six and half decades, it continued to decline up to 13%.

Our forests are at risk. They are being burned, degraded and logged at astonishing rates. It is time we open our eyes to our behaviour, our actions towards our forests. Trees are the best known ‘technology’ to cool our planet: they absorb the excess CO2 from the atmosphere, which for the first time in human history has passed the milestone level of 400 parts, per million. 50% of a tree’s biomass is actually carbon. As we all know, reforestation projects in developing countries empower local communities much more than traditional development aid, collecting seeds, growing seedlings in nurseries, transplanting and caring for the trees while they grow create long term jobs and lift entire families out of extreme poverty.

Some countries reforest on their own. South Korea is in many ways a reforestation model for the rest of the world in this respect. When the Korean War ended half a century ago, the mountainous country was largely deforested, much as Haiti is today. Today forests cover nearly 65 percent of the country, an area of more than 15 million acres. So, why we can’t keep planting more and more trees in our island? If you really want to give an answer , please plant some trees at least in your and around your house and prove that you care about our future.


A whole nation, South Korea was mobilised for reforestation of over 11 Billion trees. It took them 07 years and a wonderful nation of amazing citizens. An inspiration to Sri Lanka. Please listen.

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