Forests in northern Sri Lanka will be better protected thanks to enhanced cooperation between the Sri Lankan government and the government of the United States. This month, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Patricia Butenis officially presented mapping equipment and specialized software to assist the Sri Lankan government's Forest Department with conservation efforts in the north. The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Petalee Champika Ranawaka, accepted on behalf of the Sri Lankan government.
The United States Agency for International Development [USAID] provided computer equipment and specialized software to the Forest Department's Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing Unit for their mapping operations. USAID, the development agency of the U.S. Government, will also provide three days of technical training to Forest Department staff.
"The U.S. Government is pleased to partner with the Ministry of Environment to increase the technical capacity of the Forest Department so it can manage Sri Lanka's valuable forest resources more effectively," said Ambassador Butenis. "We share Sri Lanka's commitment to protecting the natural environment, and we applaud the Government of Sri Lanka for making conflict-affected areas a priority for conservation efforts. I am especially pleased that this partnership involves a transfer of technical knowledge, as we have much to learn from each other."
Sri Lanka's Forest Department will use this new equipment to collect information and create maps of forest resources. As a result of the conflict in Sri Lanka, the maps of forest resources in the North have not been updated for nearly twenty years. The information gained through this partnership will help the Forest Department make sound forest management and conservation decisions for the future.
The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development has provided development and humanitarian assistance in developing countries worldwide for nearly fifty years. Since 1956, USAID has invested nearly two billion dollars to benefit the people of Sri Lanka.
The United States is committed to working with its partner, Sri Lanka in conserving the forests that are essential to health and prosperity of the people of Sri Lanka.