A forest reserve and biodiversity hotspot, Sinharaja Forest Reserve is in Sri Lanka. UNESCO has designated it a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site because of its importance on a global scale.
IUCN estimates that Sinharaja is the country’s only viable region of primary tropical rainforest, and it is in Sinharaja National Park. Trees that are native to the area make up more than 60 percent of the landscape. 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of animals are unique to the country (especially butterfly, amphibians, birds, snakes, and fish species). Almost all its birds are indigenous to the area.
Hilly rainforests in Sri Lanka’s lowland rain forests ecoregion, which were protected from commercial logging by their remoteness, have been named a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978, as well as a World Heritage Site in 1988.
Unlike dry-zone national parks like Yala, lush vegetation makes it difficult to see wildlife. There are perhaps three elephants and fifteen or twenty leopards. The endemic, purple-faced langur is the most common big animal.
The bold Sri Lanka Crested Drongo and the obnoxious, orange-billed babbler lead the way in mixed feeding flocks. Sri Lanka’s 26 indigenous birds, including the rare red-faced malkoha, green-billed coucal, and Sri Lanka blue magpie, are all found in the rainforests here.
These include a range of reptiles such as the green pit viper and the hump-nosed viper, as well as amphibians such as tree frogs. The endemic common birdwing butterfly and leeches are examples of invertebrates.
“UNESCO has designated Sinharaja Forest Reserve a World Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of animals are native to the area. The endemic common birdwing butterfly and leeches are examples of invertebrates.”
The Sinharaja forest, which is treacherous, dark, and mysterious, and which is surrounded by impenetrable fog, is steeped in tradition and mystery. The title Sinharaja literally translates as “lion king” (Sinha) or “kingdom” (raja), and according to popular folklore, a legendary lion formerly dwelt in this protected woodland.
A large portion of the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is located in Rathnapura District, which encompasses most of the Kalu Ganga basin and a minor portion of the northern Gin Ganga. Galle District has a 20 percent share, while Kaluthara District has a 20 percent share.
Since the Jurassic period, the rainforest has likely existed (from 200 million years to 145 million years ago). 36,000 hectares (88,960 acres/360 km2) is the area covered by this forest. From east to west, the reserve is only 21 kilometers (13 miles) long and 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) wide, yet it has a wealth of endemic plant, insect, amphibian, and reptile life as well as a variety of bird and animal species. This is the densest rainforest in Asia, with 240,000 plants per hectare in Sinharaja.
A number of communities are scattered around the border of the reserve, which is well-integrated with the local people. Many of the small communities are located on the southern border, while a handful is located on the northern border due to huge estates. Non-timber forest products such as bees honey and a sugary sap from a local palm species of the genus Caryota are harvested by the people. Local brew and vinegar are made from the sap that is collected. When they aren’t busy with their various agricultural endeavors, locals go for a walk in the forest to collect the above products. There are dozens of streams that flow through the reserve, and their clear water provides water for all the people that live there. Annual pilgrimages to Adams Peak have required locals to traverse the forest north to south for generations.
After receiving a complaint from Sri Lanka’s Centre for Environmental and Nature Studies, UNESCO requested that the enlargement of an ancient route between Lankagama and Deniyaya be put on hold. After several requests to the Sri Lankan government by residents of the surrounding villages, the building was finally restarted on August 10, 2020. There was a massive social media push by environmentalists to halt this, but the Sri Lankan government has decided to go forward with it because it will destroy only 0.006 percent of the forest’s total landmass, which is enough to enhance the lives and livelihoods of the poor villagers in the area.
His name is Martin Wijesinghe, a prominent figure in Sri Lankan history. The Sinharaja’s unofficial protector is him. Since the 1950s, he has been a guardian and caretaker
“Sri Lankan forest products such as bees honey and a sugary sap from a local palm species of the genus Caryota are harvested by the people. There are dozens of streams that flow through the reserve, and their clear water provides water for all the people that live there. Annual pilgrimages to Adams Peak have required locals to traverse the forest north to south for generations.”
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