Sri Lanka is earned the name “Island Paradise” for the rich natural assets, the country once had. Thick rain forests and thin dry forests were the habitat for various living beings. Rivers, streams and waterfalls added beauty to the greenery. But now the situation is changed. During the last 2-3 decades the nature which we were best knows for, is vastly destroyed.
Forest cover of Sri Lanka was last measured back in 2011. According to statistics, Sri Lanka had a forest cover of 29.43% of the country’s land area, though many unofficial records can be found indicating much less area of forest cover. According to many unofficial records, current(2015) forest cover is reduced down to 15%. Due to deforestation, many micro and macro level issues have emerged. Frequent droughts, irregular weather patterns, soil erosion and land slides are some of the main consequences we are currently facing.
Following graph shows the forest cover in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has several industries which heavily depend on the natural assets. Tourism is such industry which relies on archaeological sites and the natural assets that we have. But due to direct and indirect consequences of deforestation, our natural assets are gradually deteriorating, endangering the tourism industry, as well as many.
Hydro-power electricity was Sri Lanka’s major contributor to the power grid, but over the years contribution of hydro-power has reduced due to lack of water in the tanks. In 2014 the contribution was only 37% whereas in 1990, 100% of the electricity was generated using hydro-powered plants. To fulfill the required electricity demand, the governments have turned towards thermal-powered plants which would use diesel or coal as the fuel. This process would not only very expensive, but also it would increase the carbon foot print, which is the main cause for Green House Effect.
Following graph shows the electricity production from hydroelectric sources in Sri Lanka.
According to many researches, the main reason for deforestation in Sri Lanka is forest clearance done by small scale farmers for agricultural purposes. Although there are laws preventing clearing preserved forests, farmers continue to invade into the forest areas to expand their cultivation.
Following graph indicates the growth of agricultural lands in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka being a small country with limited natural resources, it is important that we maintain a balance between human needs and technological demands with natural assets, in order to achieve long term sustainable development.