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Tropentag, September 18 - 20, 2019 in Kassel

"Filling gaps and removing traps for sustainable resources development"

Current Issues in Biodiversity Management in South and South East Asia: Sri Lanka

Thavananthan Sivananthawerl

University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is an island with 6.6 million ha of land area of which 21% is covered with the natural forest. It's remarked as one of the biodiversity hotspots among the world, falling into “Western Ghats” which including western parts of India. Biodiversity of Sri Lanka could be explained by mainly four components; Ecosystem and habitat diversity, Species richness of plants and animals, Genetic diversity of plant and animals and Cultural diversity.

Ecosystem diversity mainly covers with the forest and related ecosystem ranging from lowland forest to thorn forest in the low rainfall area. Wetland ecosystem in the inland varies from swamp forest to riverrine forest where as coastal and marine ecosystem ranges from mangroves at the shore to coral reefs into the sea. Agricultural ecosystem covers a wide range of cultivation from paddy land to different perennial cropping system including the homegarden.

In account of species richness of flowering plants, around 3,154 species form 1369 genera present of which 28.3% are endemic to Sri Lanka. Among the faunal diversity, 33 bird species, 21 mammal species, 125 reptile species, 95 amphibian species, 50 fresh water fish species, 205 land snails, 256 spiders, 47 dragonflies and 26 butterfly species are endemic to Sri Lanka. The genetic diversity is the other contributor to the biological diversity, as an example over 2500 land races and wild relatives of rice found of which most of them are resistant to disease, salinity and drought. Cultural diversity is the other important component, which leads to the biodiversity where variety of ritual ceremonies considered to be more diverse with different crops cultivated.

Biological diversity is important for ecological and genetic conservation, speciation, food, medicine, fodder, raw material for industrial development and local livelihood and ecotourism. Unplanned agriculture and construction, pollution due to industrial wastes, fire, invasive species, overexploitation, pirating genetic materials are some of the reasons for loss of biodiversity in Sri Lanka.

Proper land use planning in certain areas, forest zonation from strict conservation to forest plantations and agroforestry, and establishment of conservation area PA network are the most successful remedies implemented to overcome the loss of biodiversity in Sri Lanka.

Keywords: Biodiversity, endemic, fauna, flora, sri Lanka

Contact Address: Thavananthan Sivananthawerl, University of Peradeniya, Kandy, Sri Lanka, e-mail: sivawerl@yahoo.com

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