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      Biosphere Reserve Information

Sri Lanka


  General Description   The Bundala Biosphere Reserve is located on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka. The core area, which is also a national park, includes four brackish water lagoons. The lagoons are fringed by narrow strips of marshland and are surrounded by slightly undulating terrain covered predominantly with lowland dry scrub forest. The topography is generally flat with sand dunes varying in width from about 50 to 300 meters bordering the coastline. This sand dune system is one of the broadest found on the island and has associated fresh water deposits which nourish the vegetation in adjacent areas making it more lush even during the driest periods of the year.

The core area serves as a refuge for migratory and resident bird species and is one of the few areas where both of the crocodile species (Crocodilus palustris and Crocodilus porosus) present in Sri Lanka can be found. The nearest major town is Hambantota. The buffer zone includes four villages with approximately 3,800 people while the transition area includes 18 villages with about 20,000 residents with some areas being semi-urban. The main economic activities practised by these local communities include animal husbandry, fishing, agriculture and mining of fossil shell deposits for lime production. There are Coordinating Committees for fishers and farmers. These committees together with Farmer Organizations and Fisheries Cooperative Societies regulate fishing activities, create alternative livelihoods for fishermen and encourage appropriate fishing methods in the protected areas.

The core area is under the legal and administrative jurisdiction of the Department of Wild Life Conservation (DWC) and the buffer zone and transition area are administered by the District Secretary of Hambantota in collaboration with the DWC. All three zones of the biosphere reserve are covered under the existing National Park management plan as it includes what is referred to as the 'zone of influence’, which extends to the buffer zone and transition area.In the transition area there are several historic temples and places for religious worship including the seaside temple built by King Kavantissa (209BC - 164 BC) at Kirinda.
  Major ecosystem type   Brackish water lagoons; marshland; dry thorn tropical scrub forest; sand dunes; beaches; agricultural land.
  Major habitats & land cover types   Wetlands (shallow coastal lagoons and surrounding salt marshes) with species such as Typha angustifolia, Ceratophyllum demersum and Cyperus rotundus in the lagoons and Halosarica indica, Cynodon dactylon and Cyperus stoloniferus in the saltmarshes; Dry-mixed evergreen forest characterized by Manilkara hexandra, Flueggea leucopyrus, Erythroxylon monogynum etc.; Dry thorny scrubland and grassland with species such as Dicrostachys cinerea, Flueggea leucopyrus and Capparis divaricata in the scrublands, and Cynodon dactylon, Cyperus rotundus and Eragrostis gangetica in the grasslands, Sand dunes and beaches with Spinifex littoreus, Ziziphus oenoplia, Launaea sarmentosa etc.
  Location   06°12’50’’N; 81°13’30’’E (Central point)
06°16'02"N - 81°05'41"E
06°08'16"N - 81°19'05"E (External limits)
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   24,838
  Core area(s)   6,218
  Buffer zone(s)   8,567.5 (of which marine: 2,287.5)
  Transition area(s) when given   1,0052.2 (of which marine: 67.5)
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   -18 to +26
  Year designated   2005
  Administrative authorities   Department of Wildlife Conservation
  Brief description   The legally protected core area includes four brackish water lagoons, which serve as a refuge for both migratory and resident bird species. It helps conserve native species by providing a high level of protection. The forest is an important habitat for the endangered Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus) and the region is also one of the few areas where both of the crocodile species present in Sri Lanka can be found. The buffer zone extends up to 6.75 km (marine buffer zone up to 1 km) from the periphery of the core area and includes traditional use of the land such as rice farming, shifting cultivation, livestock grazing and salt manufacturing. The transition area includes human settlements and villages where agricultural-irrigated rice farming activities also occur.

Research on marine turtles that visit the coastal areas for nesting (including monitoring of turtle nests and gathering data on species, eggs laid and hatchlings emerging); Annual waterfowl census and bird-banding programme; Monitoring of tourism in the park including annual visitor numbers.
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Pollution, pollutants.
  Biodiversity   Alien/Invasive/Exotic/Introduced species, amphibians, benthos, biodiversity, birds, breeding/reproduction, coastal/marine, conservation, dune systems, ecotone, endemic species, fauna, fishes, flora, genetic resources, lagoon systems, mammals, mangrove, migrating populations/migration, plankton, plants, rare/endangered/threatened species, reptiles, restoration/rehabilitation/redevelopment, species inventorying/inventory, wetlands, wildlife.
  Socio-economic   Archaeology/Paleontology, economic studies, recreation, small business initiatives, social/socio-economic aspects, tourism.
  Integrated monitoring   Ecosystem approach, education and public awareness, mapping.
  Contact address    
Director General
No18, Gregory’s Road
 Colombo 08
Sri Lanka

Last updated: 07/04/2006

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