Sinharaja Rain Forest

Sinharaja Rain Forest, Sri Lanka

April 6, 2020
Heritage sites

The Sinharaja Forest Reserve currently spans 8,864 hectares (21,903 acres) in the island’s southwest and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 because of its rich and unique plant and animal life.

Sinharaja, the largest great lowland Rain forest in Southern Asia is the richest store of biodiversity in Sri Lanka making it a unique site for scientists, naturalists and Eco tourists. Sinharaja covers a narrow silver of land 21 km long and 3.7 km wide, covering an area of roughly 11,187 hectares. This rain forest is home to the highest concentration of endemic species of plants and animals, several of which are rare or endangered. It contains 36 percent of all vertebrates found in Sri Lanka and 43 percent of all endemic species found on the island.
The Sinharaja Forest Reserve represents Sri Lanka’s only rain forest and is a living repository of a pristine ecosystem. The forest’s high biodiversity includes flora endemic to the country as well as some endemic to the forest itself.

Location Of Sinharaja

Sinharaja Forest Reserve is bordering three districts of the island, namely Galle, Matara and Ratnapura districts. The Rakwana Massif with its mountain ranges are part of the area covered by Sinharaja rain forest. This would create a contiguous forest complex comprising the existing reserve and the neighboring forests of Ayagama, Delgoda, Dellawa, Delmella-Yatagampitiya, Diyadawa, Kobahadukanda, Morapitiya – Runakanda-Neluketiya Mukalana, Warathalgoda, Silverkanda, Handapanella, Gongala and Paragala. Much of these have been proposed for absorption into the protected area under the new scheme.

Bio Diversity of Sinharaja Rain-forest

Researchers helped Sinharaja be recognized as a global biodiversity hotspot, identifying more than 60% of its trees as endemic and many of them as rare. They also estimate the forest reserve is home to more than 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many birds, insects, reptiles and rare amphibians.

The dominant natural vegetation of the area is characteristic of Lower Mountains Wet Evergreen Forests while its species composition is typical to what is found in a mid-elevation primary rain forest. The presence of species habitats on different layers of the canopy clearly indicates a healthy forest ecosystem at work.

Each layer of the forest canopy has a unique set of environmental conditions and organisms. The emergent layer comprises of tall trees such as Shorea congestiflora, Sorea stipularis, Shorea affinis soaring as high as 45m above the forest floor inhabited by eagles, monkeys, butterflies and insect-eating bats. Many species of flower simultaneously giving habitat to Monkeys, Flying Squirrels, Bats, Tree Frogs, Ants, Beetles and birds such as Flycatchers.

The Sinharaja Forest Reserve represents Sri Lanka’s only rain forest and is a living repository of a pristine ecosystem. The forest’s high biodiversity includes flora endemic to the country as well as some endemic to the forest itself.

Vegetation Around

The vegetation of Sinharaja may be described either as a tropical lowland rain forest or tropical wet evergreen forest. Some striking characteristics of the forest are the loftiness of the dominant trees, the straightness of their bole, the abundance of regeneration and the diversity of species.

Average height of the trees varies between 35m – 40m while some rise even up to 50m. the vegetation of Sinharaja is that of humid wet evergreen forest type with a high degree of endemism. In fact some families such as Dipterocarpaceae show an endemism of more than 90%. The untapped genetic potential of Sinharaja flora is enormous. Out of the 211 woody trees and lianas so far identified within the reserve 139 (66%) are endemic.

Similarly, high levels of endemism are perhaps true for the lower plants like ferns and epiphytes. Out of 25 genera endemic to Sri Lanka 13 are represented in Sinharaja.

Historical Value of Sinharaja

There are many interesting facts on the formation of the Sinharaja Rain Forest in Sri Lanka and how it came in to being. The present rain forests in the world are being an evolution of the earlier rain forests dating back to 150 – 200 million years. There had been three strips of large rain forest lands called Amazon, African and Far Eastern at that time. However these large extents of rain forest areas were later became less in area content and were confined to smaller areas. Then about 140 million years back, during the Paleosoic era, a part of land from the Southern hemisphere called Gondwana land , where present day India and Sri Lanka also were situated, started its slow process of separating from the main land. About 55 million years back during Cretaceous era that land mass called Deccan plate , where Sri Lanka and India were located separated from the Southern hemisphere , started drifting towards the equator and joined with the Northern hemisphere called Laurussia.

Water Falls in Sinharaja Forest

  • Kakuna Water Fall.
  • Brahmana Water Fall.
  • Thattu Water Fall.
  • Duvili Water Fall.
  • Uran Watunu Water Fall.
  • Malmora Water Fall.
  • Pathan Water Fall.

Entrance to Sinharaja Rain Forest

  • Pitadeniya Entrance
  • Kudawa Entrance
  • Morning Side Entrance
  • Lankagama Entrance
  • Samangala Entrance
  • Deniyaya – mederipitiya Entrance

Sri Lankan Ayurvedic Herbs in Sinharaja

The World heritage Sinharaja Rain Forest’s Flora species such as Navanda or Nava Dun (Shorea Stipularis), Hora (Dipterocarpus Zeylancus), Bu Hora (Dipterocarpus hispidus) which are Emergent Tree types and Maha Kuratiya (Syzygium rubicundum) ,Tiniya Dun (Shorea trapezifolia), Kiri Hembiliya (Palaquium grande), Honda Beraliya (Shorea megistophylla), Pini Beraliya (Shorea disticha), Diya Na (Mesua thwaitesii), Na (Mesua ferrea), Dun (Shorea zeylanica) and Pelan (Bhesa ceylanica). Koti kan Beraliya (Shorea cordifolia), Rath Beraliya (Hopea jucunda), Galmora (Pometia eximia), Keena (Calphyllum tomentosum) of Sub Canopy layer trees at Sinharaja reserve also are figured here with many other important species of tropical trees & endemic trees of Sinharaja Forest Reserve..!

Medicinal plants in rain forests are very important bio resources in a country like Sri Lanka. Studies have estimated the revenue generated from direct use of plants for medicinal purposes or from sale of pharmaceutical produced from chemicals derived from plants.

” Over the years, however, this prime lowland rain forest  and the areas surrounding it have faced multiple threats, ranging from illegal logging and cardamom cultivation, to unauthorized settlements and gem mining. To counter this fragmentation of the forest, the Sri Lankan government has opted to incorporate surrounding forests into the reserve, effectively increasing the size of the protected area four times to 36,000 ha (88,960 acres) “.

Climate at Sinharaja Rainforest

The Sinharaja Rainforest lies within a rainfall range of 3,000 to 6,000 millimeters annually. The average temperature ranges between 20°C to 25°C.

The best time to visit Sinharaja

It rains in Sinharaja pretty much throughout the year, though the chances of rain are less during the months of December to April and July to August.

How to get to Sinharaja Forest Sri Lanka

Travelling by road from Colombo, the Sinharaja Rainforest can be reached via Ratnapura, Kiriella, Kalawana, Weddala or Galle – Deniyaya. If you are planning to fly in by Helicopter, you can take off from the Bandaranaike Airport or from Ratmalana and land at Sinharaja, then reach the Rain forest by road. The Air Taxi service is not available for this location. For more information on air travel please contact us..!

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