Over 1.5 Million Saplings Planted
By Thameenah Razeek
At least 16,000 hectares of land must be afforested to meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’ s objective of 30% forest cover by 2030. Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said the current forest cover was 29.1%, and the President has urged it to be increased to 30%, which will involve the forestation of 16,000 hectares of land.
Meanwhile, he said 1.5 million saplings have been planted so far under the Ministry of Environment’s National Tree Planting programme over the past year. Distribution of saplings to schoolchildren as part of a special tree-planting programme, as well as planting saplings on auspicious occasions during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, a two-day island-wide tree planting programme on World Environment Day and the Thousand Herbs programme carried out at religious sites and areas with high water resources was to fulfil the President’s objective.
“Planting saplings in certain regions as well as planting seedlings on the banks of the Mahaweli River also fulfilled this endeavour, he said. The most number of saplings numbering one million, was planted during the Sinhala and Hindu New Year in connection with the ‘Nakata Palayak’ initiative,” he said.
He said no State funds were used for any tree-planting project and that it was the private sector that bore the entire financial burden.
Meanwhile, the second phase is expected to begin next month.