Amidst speculation of deforestation taking place in many parts of the country, the Forest Department will soon launch a program to monitor the changes taking place in the forest cover through a web portal and also by installing forest watcher cameras, Conservator General of Forests, Anura Sathurusinghe told the Sunday Observer. According to Sathurusinghe, the Forest Department will launch this program soon with funding from the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Chinese Government.
The Department is negotiating with the FAO for funding for the web portal through which the Forest Department will monitor the changes in the forest, on a monthly basis.
The web portal will also help the Forest Officers who go into the forests on beat duty to immediately report the incidents taking place, to the Forest Department through the web portal using tabs or phones.
Sathurusinghe said the Department was having discussions with the Chinese Government to get funding to install forest watcher cameras to monitor the activities taking place in forests.
These cameras can cover an area of about 15 kilometres and a unit consisting of camera and a tower will cost about 500,000 US dollars
“To install these cameras we need to identify hot spots which are under the threat of deforestation. The Department is having discussions to get these units free from the Chinese Government,” he said.
At present, Sri Lanka maintains a forest cover of 29.7 per cent of the total land area and President Maitripala Sirisena has given instructions to increase the forest cover to 32 percent of total land area, Sathurusinghe said.
“We can achieve this target with the lands available in the Monergala and Ampara districts and also in the Northern part of the country for reforestation,” he said.
At present country is losing 8,500 hectares of forest cover per year for various purposes and the Forest Department hopes to minimise it in the coming years.