Environmental News from Sri Lanka:
- The deepening economic crisis in Sri Lanka is expected to hit the environment and biodiversity conservation hard, experts warn.
- Acute fuel shortages mean the Department of Wildlife Conservation having to ration out fuel, when it can get it, for its patrol vehicles, while its revenue from tourism receipts at national parks has evaporated.
- Experts warn that skyrocketing prices of food and other essentials could push a growing number of desperate Sri Lankans into environmental crimes such as illegal logging for firewood, poaching for meat, and sand mining.
- The crisis also threatens to undo hard-earned gains and undermine future commitments, such as programs on emissions reduction, ending deforestation, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
For the Department of Wildlife Conservation, one of the many consequences of the crisis is that it now has to scale back patrols because of the uncertainty of when it will be able to fill up its vehicles next.
“We are trying not to reduce patrolling within the protected areas, but when the country is having a fuel shortage, we are quite helpless,” said Chandana Sooriyabandara, the head of the DWC. For now, it’s rationing out fuel to its personnel. “We are trying to use our funds to keep things going,” Sooriyabandara said.
“Research and conservation activities will usually be the first to be slashed in an economic crisis, and the government conservation agencies will soon feel the pressure to abandon this vital work,” said Sarath Kotagama, an emeritus professor of ecology at the University of Colombo and former director-general of the DWC.
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