Sinharaja Rain Forest
Introduction to Sinharaja Rain Forest
Have you ever thought of visiting a rainforest in Sri Lanka? If yes, the best rainforest to visit in Sri Lanka is the Sinharaja Rain Forest. The value of the rainforest has been recognized internationally and UNESCO declared it as a Man and Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage site.
Location of Sinharaja Rain Forest
Sinharaja rain forest covers an extent of approximately 11187 ha. The length of the forest from east to west is approximately around 21 km and its width from north to south is about 3.7 km. The rain forest situated in the southwest lowland Wet Zone of the country. Sinharaja located at latitudes 6 21- 6 26 and longitudes 80 21- 80-34. It extends over the administrative districts of Ratnapura, Galle, and Matara.
Sinharaja forest consists of a series of continuous ridges, aligned approximately in an east-west direction and lies between the tributaries of the Kalu Ganga in the north and the Gin Ganga in the south.
Access to Sinharaja Rain Forest
There are four main routes of access to Sinharaja.
- Kalawana- Weddagala road from the northwest
- Rakwana-Morning side estate road from the northeast
- Hiniduma-Neluwa road from the southwest
- Deniyaya-Pallegama road from the southeast
The Kalawana-Weddagala road is shorter and more convenient for visitors traveling from Colombo.
Biodiversity in Sinharaja Rain Forest
Sinharaja rainforest is home to the highest concentration of endemic species of plants and animals. Several of those plants and animals are rare or endangered.
The vegetation of Sinharaja described as a tropical lowland rain forest or tropical wet evergreen forest.
Some characteristics of the forest are the
- The loftiness of the dominant trees
- The straightness of their bole
- The abundance of regeneration
- The diversity of species
The average height of the trees in the Sinharaja Rainforest varies between 35m – 40m. Some individual trees rise even up to 50m. The type of vegetation of Sinharaja is a humid wet evergreen forest with a high degree of endemism. Specifically, some families such as Dipterocarpaceae show endemism more than 90%.
There is a massive untouched flora in Sinharaja. It is believed to be identified only 139 (66%) woody trees and lianas out of the 211 within the reserve. Also, there is a high level of endemism in the lower plants like ferns, epiphytes. In Sinharaja rainforest 13 are represent endemic out of 25 genera.
The total vegetation density estimated to be around 240,000 individuals per hectare including trees, shrubs, herbs, and seedlings. It believed that 95% comprise individuals of the ground layer below 1m in height.
The density of trees or lianas above 30 cm width at breast height ranges between 600 – 700 individuals per hectare. Also, the number of merchantable individuals of trees of width greater than 150 cm ranges between 45-55 individuals per hectare.
There is a high degree of endemism among the butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The amount believed to be greater than 50%.
There is a low chance of viewing animals in the Eastern sector of the rainforest. There is a high chance of seeing deer species. The most common is the Sāmbhar deer. The monk deer and barking deer found within the reserve. Leopards sighted seldom. But frequent presence has been confirmed by tracks and other signs of leopards. Badger Mongoose and the Golden Palm Civet sighted occasionally.
The Birds recorded in the western sector of the reserve, 72% were resident non-endemic and 13% migrants. One of the colorful spectacles found in the Sinharaja is the mixed species of foraging bird flocks. A total of 100 such flocks systematically observed within the Sinharaja rain forests. Some studies found that some flocks contained 48 species including 12 endemic species.
The Rare Endemic Birds in Sinharaja Rainforest
- Red-faced Malkoha
- Sri Lanka Blue Magpie
- Ashy-headed Babbler
- White-headed Starling
- Green-billed Coucal
The Agamids are the best-represented group of reptiles in the Sinharaja rainforest. The most common being the Green Garden Lizard. The rare Calotes Liolepis an arboreal species can also found within the rainforest.
The Hard-shelled Terrapin recorded as the only Tortoise in the reserve. The spotted skink can seen often species of skinks. the Green Pit Viper and Hump-nosed Viper are common among the snakes in the Sinharaja Forest. They are endemic to Sri Lanka.
The Wrinkled frog and The Sri Lankan Reed frog also found in Sinharaja streams and marshes. Ramella palmate recorded as the only microhylid. Also, the yellow-banded Caecilian recorded as the only apodal.
Conservation of Sinharaja Rainforest
It is a must to be conserver Sinharaja rainforest as a world heritage site that is rich in biodiversity.
Sinharaja consists of two zones for conservation purposes as below.
- Core protected Zone
- Buffer Zone
The core zone composed of a wet tropical evergreen forest. As the buffer zone extends along with a large sector of land, it shows a diversity of forest types. The buffer zone is at the border of the Sinharaja forest and about 3.2km wide. The buffer zone needs to be protected first as it is directly adjoining human-associates. The core protected zone secured only if the buffer zone is survived.
The Sinharaja rain forest is gradients over to the south-western slope of central hills. Because of that, there are few intermediate zones composed between the two zones. The intermediate zone consists of Wet, Lowland Montanez forests. It considered the current conservation status of Sinharaja is at a satisfying level.
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