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      Biosphere Reserve Information

Sri Lanka


  General Description   Sinharaja is the largest continuous evergreen rain forest remaining in the lowland wet zone of Sri Lanka. Its importance for conservation is linked to its high endemism of flora and fauna. In 1971, 2,500 hectares of the Forest Reserve was transformed into a IUCN-IBP Strict Reserve with full protection for flora and fauna. In 1977, all timber exploitation in the entire forest was banned and in 1978, it was designated as a MAB Biosphere Reserve.
Only 84 families were residing in the southern part of the reserve. There are 544 families living in peripheral villages (according to the statistics of Sinharaja Management Plan - 1992). These families are making their living from farming rubber, tea, cinnamon and seasonal crops such as paddy rice and vegetables. Approaches to improve rural development and local livelihoods include enrichment planting, using primary forest timber and non-timber species in Pinus stands, exploring the potential of locally esteemed non-timber species for domestication and deploying young people from adjacent villages to guide visitors around Sinharaja.
Some 20,000 annual visitors come to the northwestern side of Sinharaja (1996). The biosphere reserve fulfils an important training and education function since about half of the visitors are school children and students who use the biosphere reserve as a field observatory to complement classroom teaching. The biosphere reserve is included into local ecology curricula. Many studies have been carried out by local as well as foreign researchers and students from various universities. This has given many students very good experience in field work and they have improved the knowledge of the reserves’ flora and fauna considerably.
The preparation of a Conservation Plan in the area has been crucial for the promotion of conservation and sustainable development activities. Community-based organizations are encouraged and supported by the Forest Department to assist in the implementation of the management plan.
  Major ecosystem type   Tropical humid forests
  Major habitats & land cover types   Tropical lowland rainforest; tropical sub-montane forest; riverine forest; secondary rainforest
  Location   06°21' to 06°26'N; 80°21' to 80°34'E
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   11,187
  Core area(s)   11,187
  Buffer zone(s)  
  Transition area(s) when given  
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +300 to +1,170
  Year designated   1978
  Administrative authorities   Forest Department, Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources
  Brief description   Soil biology and nutrient cycling
Phytosociology of the tree flora
Reproductive biology and genetic diversity of underutilized plant species
Population dynamics of plant and animal species
Ecology of birds and small mammals, amphibians and crustaceans
Long-term forest dynamics
Restoration and regeneration ecology
Rural sociology
Resources economics
Mapping of the different zones of the biosphere reserve
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Nutrients, soil.
  Biodiversity   Amphibians, biology, birds, ecology, fauna, forest systems, genetic resources, invertebrates/insects/spiders, mammals, natural resources, phytosociology/succession, plants, population genetics/population dynamics, restoration/rehabilitation/redevelopment.
  Socio-economic   Economic studies, social/socio-economic aspects.
  Integrated monitoring   Mapping, planning and zoning measures/zonation, rural systems.
  Contact address    
Divisional Forest Office
Dharmapala Mawatha
Sri Lanka
  Telephone   (94.45) 221 71
  Fax   (94.45) 221 71
  Contact address    
Divisional Forest Office
Lower Dickson Road
Sri Lanka
  Telephone   (94.9) 343 06
  Fax   (94.9) 343 06
  Contact address    
Deputy Conservator of Forests (Rathnapura)
Regional DCF Office
Sri Lanka
  Telephone   (94.45) 254 34
  Fax   (94.45) 254 34

Last updated: 25/03/2005

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