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Sinharaja Forest Sinharaja Rain Forest Mountain Range

The World Heritage Virgin Rain Forest Cover in Sri Lanka

 

Also referred as Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the location of the Sinharaja Rain Forest is in the South Western part of the island and covers an area of 11,187 ha (Hectares). 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.

 

Sinharaja Rain Forest Water Stream

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There are few 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 Decan 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.

 

Fig.1 Separation of India and Sri Lanka from the Southern Hemisphere

Fig.1 Separation of India and Sri Lanka from the Southern Hemisphere

Due to this new environment , the Plant and Animal life of that land mass started to undergo changes to evolve its own characteristics making way to unique botanical and biological species. Later around 20 million years back, Sri Lanka separated from the Decan plate due to changes of the Sea water level and sinkage. Today the Rain Forests in Sri Lanka are confined to the Southern part of the Sri Lanka nearest to the equator. Forests in the the other parts of the island differs much with Sinharaja Forest cover. It is a noticeable fact that the animal and plant lives are having similarities in Sinharaja rain forest and the other rain forests found in Madagascar, Andeman Islands, Mascarene Islands , African and South Eastern islands.

 

Sinharaja Rain Forest  Flora

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Tropical rain forests need to have three main factors in common. First, there should be bright sunlight, secondly there needs to be a high rainfall, distributed all along the year and also a high temperature.This makes the region very humid. Only Sinharaja and few other scattered forest cover of lesser extent in land area in the Southern Western part of Sri Lanka fulfils the above criteria. There is also a good reason for Sinharaja to be a virgin forest but not for the forests in the Northern parts of the Island. Sri Lanka was an agricultural country since 4th Century BC and much of the land in the North Central part of the country, where there are forest covers now, had been under the plough (with rice cultivation ) till around 10th Century AD. so the age of the forest cover there dates back only for around thousand years or so.

 

Sinharaja Rain Forest Flora

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Sinharaja forest cover receives between 3000-6000 mm of rain throughout the year and have a minimum rainfall of over 200 mm even during non monsoon periods. The mean temperature is between 18-27 degrees Celsius with a humidity of 75% - 90%. Only a faint sunshine reaches the ground layer of the forest which ranges from 5% - 15% of the total sun light. The land coverage of the Sinharaja Forest is 21 kM lengthwise, with a minimum width of 3 kM and a maximum width of 7 kM throughout that land extent. The location of Sinharaja rain Forest is between 6 D 21 M and 6 D 27 M , North and 80 D 25 M and 80 D 34 M, East. Gin Ganga and Kalu Ganga [ Rivers Gin and Kalu] gets its water flow from this forest land. The highest elevated mountain peak found at Sinharaja is 1170 Mts and has eight peaks over 600 Mts.

 

Sinharaja Rain Forest Water Stream

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The Sinharaja Forest is considered to be a Tropical Rain Forest in the areas below 1000 Mts. elevation and Sub Montane Forest above 1000 Mts. elevation. The Plant density inside the forest is 240,000 plants per hectare and also there are 340 timber species. Out of these 192 are endemic to sri Lanka and 19 out of those endemic species are found only with in Sinharaja Forest.

 

Sinharaja Rain Forest Flora

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To visit Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the most used and accessible route is Veddagala- Kudawa route. It is also the most convenient route and can be reached coming along from Colombo, passing Avissawella, Ratnapura, turning off from Tiruwanaketiya and passing Nivitigala, Kalawana, Deldoda, Veddagala and reaching Kudawa.

 

Sinharaja Rain Forest - Spider and its Web

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The other route to Kudawa is through Matugama,Agalawatta, Bellana, Baduraliya, Kukulegama then as above passing Kalawana, Delgoda, Veddagala and reaching Kudawa.

The Morningside Route can be accessed either from Ratnapura, Pelmadulla, Kahawatta, Madampe, Rakwana, Suriyakanda and to Morning Side or from Akuressa, Morawaka, Deniyaya and reaching Morning Side before going to Suriyakanda.

 

Sinharaja Rain Forest  Fauna

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Rainfall figure Charts for Deniyaya and Sinharaja

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Deniyaya and Sinharaja Area Rainfall

Monthly Rainfall graphs created by obtaining generalized values for Deniyaya and Sinharaja

 

 

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Carbon Sequestration

Carbon Sequestration is a natural phenomena taking place during the photosynthesis in Plants which absorbs Carbon from the atmosphere for this process. The Plant leaves, branches, trunks and roots stores these Carbon and the soil also gets deposited with Carbon. Emissions of Carbon Dioxide causes Global climatic changes, mainly the green house effect that raises the global temperature and Carbon sequestration helps to offset this effectively.

 

Sinharaja Rain Forest

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Sinharaja Forest's contribution to the World's Humankind becomes more and more prominent with the advancement of the Earth Sciences and the role it does on Carbon Sequestration is priceless as to the new findings. According to a CRS Report for Congress,(1) the Biome of Tropical Forests sequestrates one of the highest percentages of Carbon which totals upto 109 tons per acre. Thus Sinharaja Rain Forest effectively sequestrates (1 hectare = 2.47105381 acres) around 3,013,160 tons of Carbon among its vegetation and the soil.

 

Sinharaja Rain Forest

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One must not forget the sister rain forests of Kanneliya(5108 ha), Dediyagala(3305 ha) and Nakiyadeniya(1300 ha) totaling upto 9714 ha which is known as the KDN complex that lies about 35 kM to the North West of Galle, which contributes to the Carbon Sequestration and to the Island's bio diversity.

 

 

Sinharaja Rain Forest  Flora

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Travelling to Sinharaja Forest Reserve.

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The Plant Life at Sinharaja

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The Plant Life at Sinharaja

 

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On the trail to Mulawella View Point

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These Photographs appear in the actual sequence of the trekking took place. Plant species found on the way to Mulawella View point are accompanied here.

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The Plant Life at Sinharaja

 

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The plant species along the path.

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The Flora in the Tropical Rain Forest

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Plant species and a wild fowl on the gravel path.

 

 

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The Landscape at lower level of the Forest

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The Plant Life at Sinharaja

 

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Reaching the beginning of Mulawella Trail

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The landscape approaching the forest.

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Along the trail to Moulawella

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Mulawella trek climb starts here.

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Sinharaja Rain Forest  Moulawella Peak

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Reaching the Summit of Moulawella View point

 

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Sinharaja Rain Forest Moulawella Peak

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Moulawella Peak Panoramic Views

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Descend from Moulawella Peak

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Back tracking to Kudawa Information Centre

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Leaving Sinharaja along Veddagala

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Reference

Forest Department Publication- " Sinharaja World Heritage "

 

CRS Report for Congress

Author Contact Information
Ross W. Gorte
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
rgorte@crs.loc.gov, 7-7266

 

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