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  Srilanka Rain Forest

Kanneliya Forest Reserve
(Kanneliya, Dediyagala, Nakiyadeniya, complex)

Kanneliya Dediyagala Nakiyadeniya (KDN) Forest Reserves are located in the south-western part of Sri Lanka, east of Galle. KDN complex of forests occupies the area between two rivers, the Gin Ganga and the Nilwala Ganga. It consists of a series of ridges and valleys and elevation ranges from 60- 425m above mean sea level. The mean monthly temperature is around 270 c, with a diurnal range of 4 -50 c. Maximum temperature has been recorded from mid March to May. The mean annual rainfall in Kanneliya is around 3750 mm. The natural vegetation of KDN complex is the lowland wet evergreen forest, which is a climax forest formation dominated by the Doona (Shorea), Dipterocarpus, Mesua association. Floristically and physiognomically, it shows affinities to the lowland rain forest of Malaysia. Over 17% of the wet zone flora is confined to this area where the KDN forests are the most prominent. This region has been identified as floristically one of the richest areas in South Asia. The endemic flora and fauna of the south-western wet zone, including the KDN, includes a relict of the biota of the Indian Plate with Gondwanaic ancestry. Therefore, the biota of the south-western Sri Lanka, including the KDN forests is of considerable scientific interest with respect to the biogeography of south and Southeast Asia. There is a high proportion of endemism among the identified woody plants, with 159 species belonging to 94 genera and 41 families being endemic to Sri Lanka. Over 100 Bird species can be seen, out of that 16 species are endemic to Sri Lanka. eg. Green billed Coucal, Blue Magpie, Spot-winged thrush etc. and over 15 endemic freshwater fish species can be found from Kanneliya streams and many other endemic reptiles, amphibians, butterflies also can be seen from this area.

There are 78 villages surrounding the KDN forests. Small scale cottage industries based on kitul palm (fishtail palm), and many people are involved in the collection of medicinal plants and plant products, and rattan for handicrafts and furniture. Collection of bee honey has become a popular activity but it is declining. This is an important part of the rural economy.

Kottawa Forest Reserve (Arboretum)

Kottawa forest reserve is situated in northeast of Galle along the main road to Udugama township. This isolated patch of low country rain forest is only about 37acres in extent. Nevertheless, it has all the features of a typical rainforest. The vegetation is that of wet evergreen type with tall trees struggling upwards to reach the sunlight with small canopies touching each other preventing the penetration of sunlight to the bed of the forest. The tree bases are buttress in nature, a well represented under storey of plant comprising of the dominate tree species is present and hence it is considered a climax community, a healthy sign for the continuity of the forest. The vegetation is dominated with Dipterocarpus species and tree ferns, where orchids and moss grow on their tall tree trunks.

There are about 170 tree species identified in the area of which about 100 species are endemic to the country. About 80 common tree species have been identified and numbered with their botanic names. In Kottawa Arboretum can be able to observe about 70 species of birds, including 12 endemics, such as Yellow-fronted Barbet, Brown-capped Babbler, Spot-winged Thrush, Sri Lankan Spurfowl and Grey Hornbill. It is also a good place to see some beautiful Sri Lankan butterflies (Birdwing, Tree Nymph, Clipper, Blue Oakleaf and more). The Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, Toque Monkey and Giant Squirrel dominate the canopy area of the forest. Among the reptiles, some beautiful Sri Lankan non-venomous snakes and some endemic agamid lizards could be found in the area. The unpolluted streams that traverse through the forest area harbours a variety of fresh water fishes of which most of them are endemic to the country.

Hiyare Rainforest Park
(Environment & Biodiversity Study Centre & Botanical Garden)

Hiyare is a reservoir bordered by 600 acres of secondary lowland rainforest. The reservoir was established in 1911 and encompasses 55 acres. It is managed by the Galle Municipality. The Forest Department also has jurisdiction as the reservoir adjoins the Kottawa Kombala Forest Reserve. Hiyare is a part of the Southern Sinharaja - Hiniduma- Kanneliya plant community. The dominant trees of the rainforest are the Hora, a member of the Dipterocarpacea family, Malaboda and Kekiriwara. Weval, a Calamus vine which is depleted in Sri Lankan rainforests due to un-sustainable harvesting. Venivel which is widespread in the forest is a locally well known medicinal creeper. The trunks of tall trees are often clothed with Gini Vatarang, a Cyathea.

The reservoir in the foreground forms a detailed cross section of the forest. It is an excellent spot for birding where over 80 species of birds, out of which are 10 endemics can be seen in Hiyare. Eg. Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Brown-capped Babbler, Spot-winged Thrush, Black-capped Bulbul, Grey Hornbill and Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot. Some Mammals also can be seen in this reserve. Eg. Indian Grizzled Squirrel (Giant Squirrel). Palm Squirrel, Toque Monkey and Purple-faced Leaf Monkey. Other mammals recorded in the reserve include the Golden Palm Civet and Sambar. Butterflies included Blue Mormon, Common Sailor, Crimson Rose, Bluebottle and Blue Oakleaf. Large number of amphibians and reptiles of which many are endemics also recorded from this area.

A volunteer organization called, Wildlife Conservation Society in Galle is doing field surveys and research about flora and fauna in Hiyare and they have Research and Information Centre at this site.

Resource provided by
Anoma Alagiyawadu

Naturalist Light house Hotel , Galle.(Jetwin Group) Tel : + 94 (077) 3690171

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