Ambitious programme to increase country’s forest cover from 29 per cent to 32 per cent next month


By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Mahaweli Development and Environment Ministry will launch an ambitious new tree planting programme, "Wana Ropa-2015" next month to add 6,000 ha of newly generated forests to increase the country’s forest cover from 29 per cent to 32 per cent.

Ministry Secretary Udaya R. Seneviratne said that the Ministry had realised the necessity of designating a special month of the year on tree planting to provide a vision and a meaning to various annual tree planting programmes conducted by state and non-state stakeholders, especially by recognising such partners to create public opinion through a dialogue on the social responsibility associated with this activity. Addressing a press conference held at the Government Information Department on Monday (28), he said that activities under ‘Wana Ropa’ initiative would be conducted throughout next month.

Under the leadership and the patronage of several institutions of the Mahaweli Development and Environment Ministry, a main national event will be organised in each week of the month of October to symbolise the specific theme of that week. Other related programmes will be arranged by various stakeholders simultaneously.

According to him, the main focus of the proposed national tree planting month- "Wana Ropa-2015" was to meaningfully increase and enhance the country’s forest cover.

Accordingly, the priority will be given to the programmes that highly contribute to meet this specific objective. Mainstreaming the sustainability aspect through encouraging planting trees in specific locations and nurturing them are main elements. It enables the quantitative and qualitative enhancement of the forest cover and promote greenery throughout the country.

Moreover, this programme encourages incorporating all relevant stakeholders effectively, mainly to direct their tree planting programmes to conserve degraded hill tops, upper catchment areas and other degraded forest areas.

Seneviratne also said that with this broad objective, it was intended to accomplish several goals under the Vision "to create a country with enhanced greenery and the theme of creating forest gardens in barren lands".

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