Measures to increase forest cover to 30 percent - Herath

The Government has already taken measures to increase the forest cover to 30 percent by 2025 in order to preserve the ecological balance as envisaged in the National Policy Framework, “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”, said Company Estate Reforms, Tea Estate Related Crops, Tea Factory Modernization and Tea Export Promotion State Minister Kanaka Herath.

The State Minister made this observation while participating in a tree planting programme held concurrently with the enrollment of Grade One students to schools implemented countrywide on the instructions of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

He added that the Government’s plan is to annually plant 350,000 saplings islandwide along with the enrollment of Grade One students every year as a part of the National Tree Planting Programme to reach the Government’s target of increasing the country’s forest cover to 30 percent.

State Minister Herath added that haphazard deforestation had reduced the forest cover in the country. He added that the Government plans to reverse the damage caused to the environment.

Herath said that 25,000 saplings are to be planted in the Kegalle district under the “Kagallath Hadamu” policy in parallel to the government’s plan.

Addressing the tree planting programme at Beddewela Primary School in the Mawanella Education Zone, the State Minister said next the generation should be inculcated with values of protecting nature in order to achieve long term benefits for the country and the future generations.

Speaking further on the need of protecting the environment, he noted that the average adult needs about 550 litres of Oxygen a day, which is about 2.5 kilograms, adding that trees are the only source of oxygen to the environment.

He also said that a water molecule is made up of a combination of oxygen and hydrogen, and therefore trees must be protected to maintain the Oxygen level of the atmosphere.

“Environmental conservation is not just about planting trees, it is also a combination of water pollution prevention, air pollution prevention, waste management, reduction of noise pollution and soil conservation and so on,” he said. Children should be made aware of the value and importance of environment conservation from an early age for the sake of the environment and its well-being.

“Sometimes children who go on excursions are seen throwing polythene materials used as wrappers of food items they have consumed, out of windows of buses into the street or into the environment. Teachers are duty bound to make children aware of how to dispose of litter and garbage in a safe manner which is not detrimental to the environment,” State Minister Herath pointed out.

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