The way this quaint little island in the sun has been created, from its topographical, ecological, and cultural diversity that has been beautiful set within only a compact space of only 66,000 square metres, it has much to offer in terms of tropical island attractions especially in terms of exploring ecosystems in Sri Lanka.
The various ecosystems in Sri Lanka has helped put the island’s biodiversity on the global map. These are broken down by protected areas, forest reserves and with the help of the Japan Biodiversity Secretariat, Environmental Foundation Limited; they were able to generate sixteen new biodiversity maps of Sri Lanka based on the biodiversity and ecosystems present.
These biodiversity maps have identified the various ecosystems, the protected areas, identified the gaps presents in those areas, as well as looked at the various forest reserves that are prone to floods and erosion, and not to mention habitat of various species. With the onset of a population growth, forest cover has come under attack and thus, it is critical that forest ecosystem be protected for the diverse ecosystems in Sri Lanka to prevail and prosper. Sri Lanka is home to close to 1.5 million hectares, and within it, they are the habitats of various diverse species. Daily News Sri Lanka stated “The species diversity of Sri Lanka shows that we have 4000 species of flowering plants, 107 species of freshwater fish, 59 species of amphibians, 174 species of reptiles, 435 species of birds, 140 species of mammals and several thousand invertebrates.”
If you are keen on explore the rain forest ecosystems of Sri Lanka, you should first understand that there are various types of rain forests too. The following classification is courtesy of Sri Lanka Biodiversity Clearing House Mechanism.
|Forest Classification||Characteristics (Annual Avg.)||Approximate Extent (Sq. km) On Island||Districts Containing Forest Type *|
|Montane Forest||Above 1500 m elevation Temperatures ~ 15 ° C Rainfall > 1800 mm with no moisture deficit period||31||Nuwera Eliya, Kandy, Badulla, Matale, Ratnapura|
|Sub-Montane Forest||Within elevations of 1000 m to 1500 Temperatures 15 ° – 20 ° C Rainfall > 1800 mm||690||Nuwera Eliya, Ratnapura, Kandy, Matale, Badulla, Kegalle, Matara, Anuradhapura, Monaragala|
|Lowland Rain Forest||Extending from the Coastal plains to 1000 m Temperatures > 20 ° C Rainfall > 2500 mm no moisture deficit period Vegetation –visible lichen and liana species||1415||Ratnapura, Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Kandy, Matale, Kegalle, Nuwera Eliya, Colombo, Badulla, Monaragala, Gampaha|
|Moist Monsoon Forest||Found at < 1000 m Rainfall 1800 – 2500 mm with a peak from October – January with a dry period of 3 months following.||2439||Monaragala, Polonnaruwa, Ampara, Matale, Badulla, Batticaloa, Ratnapura, Kandy, Nuwera Eliya, Matara, Kurunagala, Hambantota, Gampaha, Trincomalee|
|Dry Monsoon Forest||Has a distinct season: a rainfall peak from mid October to January (coinciding with monsoon rains) and a dry period for 3-6 months. Vegetation is semi diciduouse. At elevations of < 600 m often on slopes.
Rainfall 1000 – 1800 mm
|10940||Anuradhapura, Mullaitivu, Monaragala, Mannar, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Puttalam, Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Killinochchi, Battocaloa, Hambantota, Matale, Kurunagala, Ratnapura, Badulla, Jaffna, Matara|
|Riverine Dry Forest||Found along flood plains and river valleys. < 600 m Rainfall 1000 – 1800 mm||224||Ampara, Monaragala, Hambantota, Trincomalee, Puttalam, Mannar, Polonnaruwa|
|Mangrove Forest||Present along intertidal sheltered coastlines, usually associated with river mouths and lagoons. Vegetation usually consisting of Rhyzophora species||87||Puttalam, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Mannar, Hambantota, Mullaitivu, Killinochchi, Ampara, Jaffna, Galle, Gampaha, Kalutara, Matara|
The most famed rain forest on this tropical island would the Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve. The most sought after of all the ecosystem in Sri Lanka especially due to its protected and heritage status, many backpackers in Sri Lanka, strive to experience the wonder of the biodiversity and catch glimpses of the endemic species home to it. There are many ways in which to explore the Sinharaja rain forest ecosystem as follow.