Sampalthivu Lagoon to be declared natural forest reserve


The Ministry of Agriculture, Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation has decided to designate the area around Sampalthivu Lagoon, in the Trincomalee District, as a sensitive ecological zone and a natural forest reserve.

This decision was taken following a discussion held at the Ministry under the patronage of Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, with the Secretary of the Ministry, Chandra Herath and a group of officials of the Forest Conservation Department.

‘’The area around the Sampalthivu lagoon is also an area with a large mangrove population, but the mangrove ecosystem of Trincomalee which was 2,043 hectares has reduced to 1,491 hectares over the last decade,’’ Amaraweera said.

Accordingly, it was decided to designate an area of 239.58 hectares around the Sampalthivu lagoon, belonging to the areas of Salai, Illuppaikulam, Varodhaya Nagar and Uppuveli Grama Niladhari as a sensitive ecological zone and a natural forest reserve. Amaraweera instructed Herath, to prepare a Cabinet Paper in this regard.

‘’Creating ecological beautification through planned development projects to protect the biodiversity of the Sampalthivu lagoon area is important to expand the tourism industry. This will create new jobs in the tourism sector, secure the livelihoods of the local people, and provide an opportunity for Sri Lanka to earn foreign exchange,’’ he said.

Due to the damming of the Sampalthivu lagoon and illegal land grabbing, the surrounding villages are prone to flooding and the tourist attraction has decreased due to the destruction of the existing biodiversity and animal habitats, Amaraweera said.

He added therefore that to protect the biodiversity of the Sampalthivu Lagoon and ensure long-term conservation, the said measure will be taken. Amaraweera also advised to minimise the illegal acquisitions that are currently taking place, to carry out the development work without harming the environment, and to declare this area as a natural forest reserve as soon as possible.