Located in southwestern Sri Lanka, Sinharaja Rain Forest is the last vital area of the country in the primary tropical rain forests. More than 60% of the trees are endemic and most of them are considered rare. There are many endemic species of wildlife, especially birds, but the reserve is home to more than 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many species of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians.
Sinharaja Rain Forest Owing Worldwide Value
The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is located in the southwestern lowland wetlands of Sri Lanka, covering the last stretch of Sri Lanka’s primary lowland rainforest. It covers an area of 8,864 hectares and at an altitude of 300-1,170 m it has a reserve of 6,092 ha and a proposed forest reserve of 2,772 ha. This narrow strip of rugged terrain covers a series of ridges and valleys that cross a complex network of streams. This detailed waterway flows south and north into the Gin River on the southern boundary of the property and into the Kalu River across the Napola River, the Koskulana River and the Kudawa River on its northern boundary. Annual rainfall over the last 60 years ranges from 3614 – 5006 mm, with the southwest monsoon (May-July) and the northeast monsoon (November-January) receiving the most rainfall.
Sri Lanka is home to 830 endemic species, of which 217 trees and timber climbers are found in the lowland wetlands. Of these, 139 (64%) are recorded in the reserve, including 16 rare species. Animal endemic is particularly high for birds with 19 (95%) of the 20 species recorded in Sri Lankan endemic property. The specificity between mammals and butterflies is also more than 50%. Endangered, endangered and rare species are found in the reserve: leopard (Panthera pardus), Indian elephant (Elephas maxiumus), endemic purple-faced Langur (Presbytis senex), Sri Lankan wood pigeon (Columba torringtoni), Green-bill Coucal (Centropus chlororrhynchus), Sri Lanka white-headed starling (Sturnus senex), Sri Lanka blue magpie (Cissa ornate), ashy-headed babbler (Garrulax cinereifrons) and Sri Lanka Broad-billed roller (Eurystomus orientalis irisi).
Sinharaja is the last remaining relatively restless tropical wet evergreen forest in Sri Lanka. The flora of the property is a relic of Gondwanaland and is an important component of our scientific understanding of continental drift and provides an outstanding site for the study of the processes of biological evolution. Of significant interest is the Sinharaja Basin, a reserve within the transition zone of two important rocks endemic to Sri Lanka; Southwest team and Mountain team.
The uniqueness in the property is extremely high. Preserving the final potential balance of Sri Lanka’s tropical lowland rain forest, Sinharaja is home to at least 139 endemic species in two major forests: the Dipterous remnant in the valleys and the slopes, and the secondary forest where the original forest is located. The cover has been removed. Sixteen endemic plant species are considered endemic to the property, including the native palm Loxococcus rupicola and Atlantia rotundifolia.
Animal endemics, especially for mammals, birds, and butterflies, are also high, exceeding 50%. 19 out of 20 endemic birds (95%) endemic to Sri Lanka are also in the habitat for endangered species such as leopards and Indian elephants.
Protection and Monitoring requirements
Declared a National Heritage Site on October 21, 1988, most of the area within the property was declared a forest reserve on May 3, 1875, providing a long history of protection. The property is given the highest level of legal protection under the National Heritage and Forest Areas Act of Sri Lanka and all the peripheral natural forests along the border have already been declared as conservation forests or protected forests under the Forest Ordinance. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve in April 1978, and when it was later inscribed on the World Heritage List, the values surrounding the property were further identified.
Sinharaja World Heritage Property is managed directly by the Regional Forest Officer of the Forest Department under the authority of the Ministry of Lands and Land Development. The National Steering Committee coordinates the institutions for Sinharaja as a National Forest Reserve, Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. Management policies and research are carried out in accordance with the provisions of the relevant management plans prepared for the Sinharaja Conservation Area as well as the peripheral natural forests of the property under the National Forest Policy Regulations. Emphasizes management plan conservation, scientific research, buffer zone management, benefit sharing, and community participation for properties prepared in 1985/86 and 1992/94.
The National Heritage Wildlife Areas Act provides the highest level of legal protection to Sinharaja and the high environmental awareness of the local community is extremely helpful in implementing management planning recipes. The forest dependence of the local communities is very low and maintaining this healthy partnership with the local communities is the main strategy to ensure the future security of this property. Historically protected as a result of an inaccessible and sloping area, the Department of Forest Conservation prioritizes the protection of the reserve over development pressures and resource extraction. The number of online visitors is low with only a permit entry.
Threats to the value and integrity of property come primarily from crops that invade, especially along the southern border. Offshore outsourcing comes with the great promise of cost savings. The traditional use of forest products is now restricted to outlying areas.