In Sri Lanka, forest areas that are not recognised as Protected Areas under a Gazette are classified as ‘Other State Forests’ (OSFs). While most of us may have been blissfully unaware of this term, it is now high time we wake up to its importance, considering the Government’s attempt to amend Circular 5/2001.
This decision effectively eliminates the Department of Forest Conservation’s (DFC) role in protecting these forests and transfers full authority back to the relevant District Secretariats.
Up until recently, OSFs were considered insignificant by many, with the Government going as far as to call these forests ‘residual forests’. However, a recent analysis carried out by Conservationist Dr. Samantha Suranjan Fernando and Wayamba University Senior Lecturer, Dr. Sewwandi Jayakody detailed the important services rendered by these forests.