Land grabbing for human settlements in Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka

Wilpattu National Park is under threat of land grabbing. Since 2012, environmentalists denounce the systematic deforestation for the construction of resettling sites for Muslims displaced during the civil war.


Wilpattu National Park is well known for its rich biodiversity and untouched natural environment. However, during the last years, this wild tropical forest is under threat because of land grabbing for different purposes, especially for intensive plantations, construction of resorts and roads.

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Basic Data
NameLand grabbing for human settlements in Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka
CountrySri Lanka
ProvinceNorthern Province
SiteDifferent locations on the border with Wilpattu National Park and in districts of Mannar, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIn 2010 and 2013 the Asian Development Bank grant a loan of $2,500,000 to the Ministry of Economic Development for a project to assist Internally Displaced People (Post-Conflict Emergency Assistance for Livelihood Restoration of Resettled Internally Displaced People in the North) [9].
Project Area (in hectares)7284.348 [1]
Level of Investment (in USD)Unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2013
Relevant government actorsForest Conservator General S. Anura Sathurusinghe

Archaeology Director General Dr. Senarath Dissanayake

Land Commissioner General R.P.R Rajapaksha

Wildlife Conservation Director H.D Rathnayake

Central Environment Authority

Divisional Secretary of Musali S. Ketheeswaran,

Divisional Secretary of Manthai West M Sriskandakumar

Divisional Secretary of Madhu F.C Sathyasothi

Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen

State Timber Corporation Chairman S. Amarasinghe

Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)
International and Financial InstitutionsAsian Development Bank (ADB)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCentre for Environmental Justice

Green Movement of Sri Lanka

Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationOfficial complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Tree ordinations
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Noise pollution
OtherIncrease of human-elephant conflict. This is because Wilpattu National Park is an important corridor for the passage of the elephants and an their habitat as well. The destruction of forestland will force the elephants to find food and other passages through the villages.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseLand demarcation
Development of AlternativesLocal EJOs ask to leave the forestland untouched, to apply the existent regulations and to resettle displaced in other barren lands
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project is going on and squatters are still in the area
Sources and Materials

[4] Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance
[click to view]

[5] National Environmental Act and its amendments
[click to view]


Centre for Environmental Justice. Environment Law. Ravindranath Dabare Attorney-at-Law. Sri Lanka, 2009
[click to view]

Uprooting people from the land. Land grabbing, current status and trends in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Nature Group, People’s Alliance for Right to Land - PARL. June 2012


[1] Newspaper article from 'Daily Mirror' online (13/05/2014). Bathiudeen re-settling people in forest reserves: environmentalists. (accessed 04/05/2014)
[click to view]

[2] Newspaper article from 'Ground Views' (22/04/2015). Right royal battle: The BBS vs. Bathiudeen. By Harim Peiris (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[3] Newspaper article from 'Ceylon Today' online (13/04/2014). Squatters invade Wilpattu:Rape of a National Park. (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[6] Ejustice News Letter May 2014 Volume 1 Issue 5. Land Grabbing in Wilpattu to Sannar (accessed 04/05/2015)
[click to view]

[7] Newspaper article from 'The Sunday Times' online (11/05/2014). Green Movement opposes settlement in Wilpattu of displaced people. (accessed 05/05/2015)
[click to view]

[8] Article from 'The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)' web site. Sri Lanka IDP Figures Analysis. (Accessed 05/05/2015)
[click to view]

[9] Asian Development Bank web site. Procuremen Plan of the project 'Post-Conflict Emergency Assistance for Livelihood Restoration of Resettled Internally Displaced People in the North'. Document pubblication: 4th June 2013 (accessed 05/05/2015)
[click to view]

Other Documents

Huts in Wilpattu National Park
[click to view]

Fires for deforestation
[click to view]

Road in Wilpattu National Park
[click to view]

Road in Wilpattu National Park 2
[click to view]

Road construction in Wilpattu National Park
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorPaola Camisani (EJOLT team Barcelona); Hemantha Withange (Centre for Environmental Justice)
Last update08/07/2015