Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve Under Threat
Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve (HSNR) is one of the nation’s most important Protected Areas (PA). It is the only SNR in the country at high altitude, and provides exceptional goods and services (to learn more, visit our Biodiversity Conservation page). Not only does HSNR contain unique and endangered biodiversity, it is also the critical watershed for the Uva Basin, which is one of the poorest areas in the country. In addition, the downstream Uma Oya River supplies Mahaweli systems B, C and E. Hakgala represents an extremely valuable combination of natural resources and ecological services that benefit local, regional, national and even international populations.
Despite being accorded the strictest protection by the State, HSNR has been progressively degraded over time, especially over the past 3 decades. Little decisive action has been taken by the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) or other relevant authorities to address the causes of environmental degradation and the resultant loss of vital goods and services. Rampant illegal encroachment (both within and outside the SNR boundaries) encouraged by powerful political groups, lies at the root of this environmental degradation. In many cases there appears also to have been a deliberate attempt on the part of the DWC and other agencies to withhold information from the public, and to circulate misinformation which is designed to confuse the general public. The ‘redrawing’ of HSNR’s boundaries on most of the maps available today, which show significant areas covered under the original gazette as now lying outside the boundaries of the PA (when in reality no such degazettement has taken place), presents a clear example of such misinformation.
For more information on the case pertaining the Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve (CA 549/2006), follow the link on the right.