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Sri Lanka biological diversity and tropical forests: Status and recommended conservation needs

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 09:10 AM
Contributors: Malcolm A.B. Jansen, Eric R. Loken

Due to its location in the tropics, its topography, and a long history of conservation-minded religious and political decrees, Sri Lanka has a wealth of biological diversity that it has maintained through most of its history. However, since the 1800's changes such as the British conquest and population increases have altered land use patterns. Laws regarding the environment have been enacted since this time, but many of them focus on exploitation rather than sustainable use. USAID has made significant contributions to resource conservation in Sri Lanka, especially with the Mahawell Environment Project and the Reforestation and Watershed Management Projects, which have protected wildlife, watersheds and established protected areas. Despite these, habitat destruction continues to be the most important cause of species loss. Poaching, pollution and introduction of exotic species also contribute to the degradation. Eighty-five recommendations are given, which address legislation, institutional needs, availability of information about biological resources, environmental awareness, wildlife resources, coastal and marine resources, wetland resources, agricultural crops and livestock resources. These are summarized in the following: Create a centralized governmental body responsible for environmental resources and sustainable management efforts;Updates of laws are highly recommended, as some are archaic or inadequate; Finances, equipment, logistical support, current information on the status of resources, and lack of trained workers are limiting responsible management efforts; Environmental awareness programs and publicity campaigns would increase public interest in sustainable resource management; Appreciation of forest values, other than timber, are needed and should be reflected in policies, management plans, spending and land use; Re-asses wildlife conservation needs and initiate protection programs; Water quality, circulation patterns and shoreline instability need to be addressed via updated information, more government focus and increased capacity to implement legislation and conservation programs; Wetlands need to be recognized and protected; Wild plant species with agricultural or medicinal potential need to be cataloged and gene banks, arboreta and clonal gardens should be created before these species are lost to land conversion.

Author(s): Malcolm A.B. Jansen , Eric R. Loken

Publication Date: 1998

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