This circular MWFC/1/2020 has been issued on Nov. 04.
This circular cancels out previous circulars 05/2001 dated 2001/08/10 and 02/2006 dated 2006/05/17, which had prevented arbitrary use of such lands in the past.
Accordingly, the District & Divisional Secretaries will be given the power to use lands classified as Residual Forests for various activities.
According to this, if someone wants a certain land from a wildlife or forest area, they have to request from the Divisional Secretariat to do so. The DS will consider this request and refer it to a review committee which will approve whether the land is given or not.
Speaking to 'Sri Lanka Mirror', Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, Convener of the Center for Environment and Nature Studies (CENS) says that there are several concerns when the DS becomes the deciding party of whether a certain party can or cannot have a certain land. As opposed to an environmental authority with experts aware of the ecological value of a certain land, a District Secretariat is not quite unaware. Also, there is a higher possibility of their decision being influenced by higher authorities, he added.
The following is a table of residual forest areas in districts, compiled by Dr. Kariyawasam, which he says could be used for commercial use in this manner.