Sri Lanka map

Sri Lanka is in the Indian Ocean southwest of the Bay of Bengal, and is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait. The climate is tropical and warm, due to the moderating effects of ocean winds. Sri Lanka's mangrove ecosystem spans over 7,000 hectares and played a vital role in buffering the force of the waves in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, Sri Lanka is one of 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Although the country is relatively small in size, it has the highest biodiversity density in Asia. A remarkably high proportion of the species among its flora and fauna, 27% of the 3,210 flowering plants and 22% of the mammals, are endemic. Among the trees of the dry-land forests are valuable species such as satinwood, ebony, ironwood, mahogany and teak. The wet zone is a tropical evergreen forest with tall trees, broad foliage, and a dense undergrowth of vines and creepers. Subtropical evergreen forests resembling those of temperate climates flourish in the higher altitudes. The total vegetation density, including trees, shrubs, herbs and seedlings, has been estimated at 240,000 individuals per hectare. Sri Lanka has declared 24 wildlife reserves, which are home to a wide range of native species such as Asian elephants, leopards, sloth bears, the unique small loris, a variety of deer, the purple-faced langur, the endangered wild boar, porcupines and Indian pangolins (Wikipedia).

Quick Facts

Land use

Total land area
6,561,000 hectares
Area of forest
33.0% of land area
Area of agriculture
43.7% of land area
Area of permanent cropland
15.9% of land area

People

Population
20.9 million
Population growth
0.9% annually
Rural population
82.0%

Economics and development

GDP from agriculture
8.7%
GDP per person
3926.20 USD

Climate change and biodiversity

CO2 emissions
0.78 metric tonnes per person
Threatened animal and plant species
588
Bonn Challenge Commitments
Goal year
2020
Date committed
Area committed
200,000 hectares
Potential economic benefit
63 million USD
Potential climate benefit
0.02 GtCO2 sequestered

The Asia Bonn Challenge event, held in May 2017, brought together twelve Asian countries to identify ways to collaborate on forest landscape restoration (FLR) in support of the Bonn Challenge. The event was jointly organised by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of South Sumatra in cooperation with IUCN. Along with pledges from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Mongolia during the same event, Sri Lanka made a pledge to the Bonn Challenge that helped to tip the Bonn Challenge over its 150 million hectare milestone. Sri Lanka pledges that approximately a 200,000 ha of forest land will be restored by the year 2030 in line with its Presidential Initiative “Sri Lanka Next: Blue Green Era”, as communicated in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by increasing the forest cover from 29% to 32% by 2030 and the forest policy of establishing forest land bank for Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) towards providing local and global benefits with the participation of all stakeholders including the private sector. 

National Restoration Targets
National Forest and/or Climate Strategy and/or Low Carbon Development Strategy
National Adaptation Plan for Climate Change Impacts in Sri Lanka: 2016 to 2025 (2016)
  • Adaptation need: Minimize the impact on food security due to erratic changes in precipitation (pg. 143)
    • Adaptation option: Improvements in cropping systems  
      • Actions: Promote sustainable cropping system practices for increasing the resilience of plantations and trees  
National Forest Policy of Sri Lanka -1995
  • The forestry policy approved by the government in 1995 states that all the forest areas are to be managed in a sustainable manner in order to ensure the continued existence of important ecosystems and flow of forest products and services. It also recognizes and respects the traditional rights, cultural values and religious beliefs of people living in and adjacent to forest areas.
  • The three main objectives of the National Forest Policy are:
    • To conserve forests for posterity, with particular regard to biodiversity, soils, water, and historical, cultural, religious and aesthetic values.
    • To increase the tree cover and productivity of the forests to meet the needs of present and future generations for forest products and services.
Global Environment Facility (GEF) projects
5677: Rehabilitation of degraded agricultural lands in Kandy, Badulla and Nuwara Eliya districts of the Central Highlands (CH) (2014 - duration 48 months; approved for implementation 2015)
  • Project Objective: To reverse and arrest land degradation in agricultural lands in Kandy, Badulla and Nuwara Eliya districts of the Central Highland of Sri Lanka
  • Project Component 1: Strengthening policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks for sustainable land management
    • Expected Outcomes: Enabling institutional, policy and regulatory frameworks for SLM established and operational in accordance to participatory land use development (PLUD) principles resulting in: 
      • 50,000 ha of agricultural land of the central highlands managed under SLM methods, including 10,000 ha directly implemented by the project and 40,000 ha from indirect outreach through institutional and capacity building
  • Project Component 2: Appropriate technologies for rehabilitation of degraded lands demonstrated and scaled up by strengthened networks of training and extension institutions resulting in: 10,000 ha of degraded agricultural land restored
Other (National Strategies and Plans, Rural Development Programs, Natura 2000 areas, projects, and goals)
Nationally Determined Contributions (2016)
  • The NDCs of Forestry Sector:
    • Increase the forest cover of Sri Lanka from 29% to 32% by 2030.
      • Identify land for reforestation/forestation (suitable non forest land for forestry by conducting land use planning at national scale).
      • Restoring degraded forests and hilltops (shrubs, grasslands and state lands) 
        • Multi hazard prioritization of catchment/ river basins
        • Preparing catchment management plans
        • Demarcation and protection of riverine vegetation
        • Implement protective measures
      • Forestation of underutilized private lands and marginal Tea lands.
        • Promote forestation/afforestation through non carbon benefit/payment for ecosystem service mechanism.
        • Urban forestry (roadside planting, urban parks and other state lands)
  • The NDCs of Coastal and Marine sector: 
    • Restoration, conservation and managing coral, sea grass, mangroves and sand dunes in sensitive areas.
      • Conduct pilot projects at high prioritized sites.
      • Scientifically identify suitable sites for conservation, rehabilitation and restoration
      • Survey and map coastal habitats (coral, sea grass, mangroves and sand dunes) in the entire coastal region, based on a method that is compatible with the survey department methods.
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Country Profiles – NBSAPs, National Reports (5th)
National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan 2016-2022 (2016)
  • Existing National Biodiversity Targets (pg. 118):
    • Increasing Sri Lanka’s forest cover from the present extent of 29.7% to 32% of the land area to ensure climate resilience and protection from natural hazards; 
    • Establishing an optimum protected area network to ensure representation of critical aspects of Sri Lanka’s biodiversity, connectivity of habitats and recovery of priority threatened species and ecosystems; 
    • Restoring the coastal zone, by conserving its natural resources and thereby minimizing vulnerability to natural hazards;
    • Using soft engineering solutions such as habitat restoration to stabilize eroding coastal stretches; 
    • Reducing land degradation in agricultural areas sequestration 
  • Strategic objective 5: Improve human well-being through the restoration and enhancement of key ecosystems (pg. 150): 
    • Target 11: By 2022, the capacity of ecosystems to deliver goods and services and provide protection from hazards is enhanced
      • Actions: Implement mangrove and river bank restoration and forest conservation projects for watersheds; Identify and promote species with enhanced resilience to extreme conditions in agriculture and reforestation 
  • Aichi Target 2: By 2022, habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation are significantly reduced (pg. 275):
    • Action: Carry out reforestation/ restoration, establish nurseries, restoration of coastal habitats 
Sri Lanka's Fifth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (2014)
  • Projected forest cover in different categories of forests by 2020 (pg. 37):
    • Land use: Shrubs and grasslands
      • Strategy: Restoration -- target area: 100,000 ha. Percentage of total land area: 1.52% 
  • BCap thematic area: “Forest” (pg. 51): Expand programmes for afforestation, reforestation and forest rehabilitation, paying attention to the use of indigenous species as far as possible. 
    • Key actions taken since the 4th national report and the Major outcomes: Indigenous species are being used by the FD in their afforestation and reforestation programs.   
  • The annual forest restoration program of the Forest Department has intensi ed with government allocating special annual allocation of Rs.500 million (US $ 4 million) from 2014 onwards, towards the achievement of the national target of 35 percent forest cover set by the Mahinda Chintana Vision for the Future. Large extents of degraded forest areas (especially located in the Dry Zone) are expected to be restored primarily using assisted natural regeneration (ANR) (pg. 95)
  • A pilot Project covering two DS Divisions (Walapane and Medirigiriya) to address the climate change impacts on rural livelihoods is being implemented by the Climate Change Secretariat of the MoERE, with the participation of all stakeholders. The project aims to convert and restore human induced and degraded landscapes in the two DS Divisions into more sustainable land uses (pg. 95).
  • Although the government funding in Sri Lanka for biodiversity conservation per se has not signi cantly improved, funding for some speci c sectors related to biodiversity conservation has been improved. Increased funding for forest restoration activities and home garden improvements through Dvineguma Program are some of the key indicators in this regard (pg. 98) 
UNFCCC NC5 and NC6
Sri Lanka's Second National Communication on Climate Change (2011)
  • The current forest cover in Sri Lanka has been gradually depleting and the present brand is estimated at 1.78 million hectares or 27.1% of the total land area...The total extent of forest plantations is around 95,000 ha by the Forest Department while total recorded plantation extent by the private sector is 9500 ha by 2008 with greater potential (pg. 113)
FLR Assessments

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