Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
Sinharaja Forest Reserve, fuelwood, environmental modification, desertification, poachers
Population pressures threaten Sri Lanka’s forests and wildlife. As a result, only 30 percent (2000) of Sri Lanka’s total land area is forested. Large areas of forest have been cut down for fuelwood or for timber export and have been replaced by farms. This deforestation has led to loss of wildlife habitats and to increased soil erosion and degradation. A number of threatened species continue to be hunted illegally by poachers. The island’s coastal ecosystems suffer from pollution caused by mining activities and the tourist trade, and freshwater resources are being contaminated by industrial waste and sewage runoff. Much of Sri Lanka’s mangrove forest, an important coastal habitat, has been cut down to make way for farmland and fish cultivation ponds.
The government of Sri Lanka has taken action to conserve wildlife, however. Nearly 13.3 percent (1997) of the land is protected. The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, which protects the largest remaining stand of primary rain forest on the island, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1988. The government has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to climate change, desertification, endangered species, environmental modification, hazardous wastes, law of the sea, ozone layer protection, and wetlands.
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