On behalf of concerned citizens of the Deniyara village in Sri Lanka which lies just on the periphery of the Sinharaja world heritage Forest Reserve and the concerns of ourself and many others.
It is in our understanding that this area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as stated in the IUCN Summary 405, found at http://whc.unesco.org/archive/advisory_body_evaluation/405.pdf.
It also states in this document that the felling of the forest is prohibited within 1.6km of the reserves boundary (p68).
Worryingly it has been brought to our attention that, regardless of this prohibition, construction of a hotel has been ongoing for some time (approximately one year) in the Ensalwatte Tea Estate, Viharahena near the Deniyara village. As a result of the hotel construction, the forest is being felled and if this is indeed within the 1.6km prohibition zone then this activity is, as we sure you would agree and If I'm not mistaken, illegal.
It is furthermore been brought to our attention that a local river close to the construction site has been recently dammed. We would like to be made aware of the evaluations that must have been undertaken prior to the damming. As we understand it the river has been completely dammed and therefore many species has been displaced as a result. If such conservation organisations, such as IUCN and WWF (among others we would assume) are providing funds for management plans and programmes (IUCN summary 405, p70) then surely such activities must have been properly evaluated and approved before hand.
Why has the river and so many species been affected?
Who has evaluated beforehand the construction of the hotel?
can we enquire as to what actually is protected under World Heritage protection?
It has been mentioned that the construction of this hotel is for the purpose of ecotourism, if so could you please make enquiries as to what exactly is being returned to the forest itself and to the local people.
It is inconceivable to us that this situation is unique to the Sinharaja. We believe that if this can be going on in a UNESCO World Heritage Protected Site such as the Sinharaja Forest Reserve practically right underneath their very noses then surely and sadly similiar actions must be going on elsewhere in other protected World Heritage Sites across the globe.
This campaign is very much in its infancy and web site http://www.sinharaja.net,
we hope, is only a stepping stone to a much larger development. We hope that by creating awareness of the illicit activities in the Sinharaja and by letting as many people as possible know that even protected areas of the world are threatened and vulnerable to 'predation' themselves, then maybe something will be done to encourage enforcement of regulations.
We hope that change can be brought about that will enforce countries to abide by the legislation that is set up to protect areas that need such protection. These areas are for the good of all, not for the pockets of a few.
We need your help and the help from everyone who honestly sees this particular shade of ecotourism as a contradicting problem rather than an effective and sustainable solution. By voicing your concerns and supporting the Save the Sinharaja Campaign, you are showing your support for all campaigns and for all efforts across the globe in combating such unacceptable and unsustaining activities.
This is the first few steps of a very long journey and we need YOU to take these steps alongside us.
Together we will make a difference