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Biodiversity of Sri Lanka


Nimal Gunatilleke ,

About Nimal
Department of Botany University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya.
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Rohan Pethiyagoda,

About Rohan
Wildlife Heritage Trust of Sri Lanka, P.O. Box 66, Mt. Lavinia.
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Savitri Gunatilleke

About Savitri
Department of Botany University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya
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This paper reviews the information available on the biodiversity of Sri Lanka, the causes of its degradation and the policies, legal instruments and strategies developed both nationally and internationally for its conservation and sustainable use.

In the first part of this paper, the biodiversity of Sri Lanka at the ecosystem, species and genetic levels is reviewed. At ecosystem level, each major ecosystem is introduced by giving its distribution, vegetation stature where relevant, dominant plant taxa, endemic component, some information on the fauna and finally, a few references to sites studied for that ecosystem. At the species level, the number of taxa in each group, the proportions of endemics and threatened species are highlighted.  At the genetic level, genetic variation within and between populations of some indigenous species for which data are available are given, along with a brief overview of genetic diversity in cultivated species.

The second part examines causes of loss of biodiversity at the ecosystem level; the third presents information on the policies, legislation and national strategies related to biodiversity conservation in the country and in meeting the international obligations for conservation, sustainable development and sharing of benefits arising from conservation. A strong plea is made on both formal and non-formal education at all levels for using the protected area network as learning laboratories for testing and demonstrating innovative approaches to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with social and economic development in line with the Man and the Biosphere concept.
How to Cite: Gunatilleke, N., Pethiyagoda, R. and Gunatilleke, S., 2017. Biodiversity of Sri Lanka. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 36, pp.25–61. DOI:
Published on 03 Apr 2017.
Peer Reviewed


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