The Environment and Renewable Energy Ministry has taken steps to set up Environment Protection Committees in each district with the intention of obtaining public support to increase forest cover in Sri Lanka.
This initiative has been taken under the directive of Minister Susil Premajayantha to achieve the target set out by the Mahinda Chinthana policy to increase the country's forest cover from 29 percent as at present to 35 percent by 2020.
According to the Ministry, to reach the set target, the forest cover should be expanded to another 450,000 hectares while conserving the existing forest lands.
The committees will comprise of religious leaders, police personnel, residents, officials of the Divisional Secretariat Offices and Grama Niladari Offices. The planting of saplings and tending them will be carried out with the support of the committees.
The program was inaugurated last Friday (March 21) parallel to International Forest Day. The first committee will be set up in Anuradhapura in May. Plans have been formulated to expand the program island wide parallel to the World Environment Day on June 5.
The Economic Development Ministry and Public Administration and Home Affairs Ministry have joined hands to carry out this program.