Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Sri Lankans live in a biodiversity hotspot. We may take our lush tropical hinterland and the remaining forests for granted but in these arboreal depths there are still species new to science being discovered. Every year we lose a slice of this paradise to development projects. However, last year has been especially challenging for tree huggers. The rate of deforestation increased exponentially with government repealing a key piece of regulatory protection for state forests and the massive drive for new agricultural production to meet the increased demand created by Covid-19 triggered import restrictions. At the same time, tree planting has become a national obsession. Huge sums are set aside for tree planting campaigns and urban greening. Here we discuss why trees don’t (necessarily) make a forest and why protecting Sri Lanka’s remaining forests, even small clusters, is so important for the entire world.

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Photo credit: Yanik Tissera