Sunday, August 24, 2008

ECOTOURISM IN SRILANKA


Sri Lanka is one of the 25 Biodiversity hot spots of the world. In Srilanka we have the highest Biodiversity per 10,000 square km in Asia. Fifteen (15) distinct bio regions in an area of 62,500 square km each offering different landscapes and wildlife opportunities - with an ancient civilization contemporary to that of the Greeks and Romans and numerous cultural sites of antiquity, including six world heritage sites -in Sri Lanka we have an exotic and vibrant resource base of Eco tourism. Last year I visited some of them, I share that experience with you guys here. It may be help you to get some rough idea about the Eco-tourism in respected countries.


Sinharaja Forest

Sinharaja is a forest in south-west wet zone of Sri Lanka which contains a high Bio diversity. A large proportion of flora and fauna in this forest is endemic to the country and some endemic to the Singharaja Forest itself. This is a very good place to see many endemic birds such as Ceylon Lorikeet, Layard's parakeet, Jungle and Spur Fowl, Ceylon Wood Pigeon, Grey Hombill, Spotted wing Thrush, Rufous and Brown- capped Babbler, Ashy-headed Laughing Thrush, Ceylon Blue Magpie, White Headed Starling, Ceylon Hill Mynha, Legge's Flowerpecker. The clear cut roads in to the jungle provide easy access to the forest. This important forest is a Man and Biosphere Forest reserve and it is considered as a World Heritage Site, on the day time we mostly travel to avid the travel obstacles.


There are two villages within the south-west of the reserve, namely Warukandeniya and Kolonthotuwa. The total population is in excess of 5,000 people. Some land adjacent to the reserve is under private ownership, including small tea a
nd rubber plantations. The extent to which local people are economically dependent on rain forest resources is variable but about 8% of households might be completely dependent, but we see their living standard is very poor than nearby Towns.
Visitors are low in number and mostly naturalists. Entry is by permit, obtainable from the Forest Department in Colombo. We got the permit on the way to the Forest department in Sabaragamuwa Province. There are nature trails to the peaks of Moulawella and Sinhagala. Guidebooks to the Moulawella Trail and to the secondary vegetation have recently been prepared by the forest department. Some accommodation is available with the Forest Department near the reserve entrance at Kudawa, but they are not up to the standard. When we ask the department they said that further facilities are planned.


For me as Lankan lived in other countries, it’s a new experience with some of the locals who lived there for years, as a hospitality student and a nature loving person I admire Lanka's natural beauty. But sad is that Srilankan Tourism Authority is not taking any activities to attract Foreign Nature lovers to Srilanka's beautiful untouched Natural parks like this, on the way we see some sign boards in English but I think it's not providing enough information to the foreign visitors. I hope the situating will change and Srilanka will going to cater the natural lovers from other countries.


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