President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday ordered authorities to extend the borders of the Wilpattu National Park and declare it a ‘Wildlife Zone’ by a Gazette Notification.

He told officials to include all the adjacent forest areas of the Wilpattu National Park presently not coming under the Wildlife Department into this wildlife zone.

The President issued this directive at a special meeting at the Presidential Secretariat with the Heads of institutions affiliated to the Mahaweli Development and Environment Ministry President Sirisena also instructed to work out a mechanism which enables the constant monitoring of all forest areas including Wilpattu from the air using the latest technology.

The President asked the officials to strictly implement the law against forest clearing irrespective of the positions of those involved in such offenses.

The President also said he hade made a request from the Judicial Services Commission to fully implement the penalty and jail sentence applicable for forest clearing and the felling of trees.

He also advised officials to dispatch a team of experts to investigate and submit a report on the allegations of deforestation in the Mannar and Puttalam districts including Wilpattu.

The team comprises of officials of Environment Ministry, Wildlife Department and Forest Conservation Department, representatives of environmental organizations and journalists.

The President asked that lands situated away from forests be used for resettlement purposes in the future and advised to formulate a special programme to identify such lands. 

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