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Viability status of biosphere reserves in Sri Lanka


A. H. Magdon Jayasuriya ,

EML Consultants (Pvt.) Ltd.,68, Davidson Road, Colombo 04., LK
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Darrell J. Kitchener,

USAID IFACS Project Wisma GKBI, 12th Floor, Suite 1210, Jalan Jend, Sudirman # 28, Jakarta 10210, Indonesia., ID
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Chandrasekhar M. Biradar

Department of Botany and Microbiology and Center for Spatial Analysis, University of Oklahoma, 101 David L. Boren Blvd, Norman, Oklahoma 73019, USA., US
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Viability refers to the ability of a species to persist for many generations or a community / ecological system to persist over some specified time period. The natural vegetation is the matrix in which the biological diversity at ecosystem, species and genetic levels is developed and sustained, and therefore the viability of the natural vegetation is critical for biodiversity conservation and management. There are 29 sites listed as Biosphere Reserves in Sri Lanka, including four International Biosphere Reserves (IBR), while two more sites are in the process of being proposed as IBRs. During the recently conducted Protected Area Gap Analysis in Sri Lanka exercise, the viability status for all natural vegetation sites was assessed using condition, area and landscape criteria, viz, habitat condition, area, wilderness, shape and isolation. One of the most significant challenges in the application of these criteria is factoring in the large-scale changes brought about to those communities and ecological systems by anthropogenic disturbance that has occurred in the past. Satellite Remote Sensing and GIS (RS/GIS) techniques were used to assess and characterize the site viability. The sites were ranked for viability into four categories, viz. Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor, and colour-coded for easy reference by the conservation authorities and managers. Using RS/GIS technology, the biosphere reserves were separated from other protected areas and overlaid with the viability status map of the Gap Analysis to determine their viability. Thus, a map showing biosphere reserves that also indicates the individual viability status in four-coloured categories was generated. The final product is expected to be useful to the conservation managers for planning, prioritizing and formulating management plans for biosphere reserves in Sri Lanka.

Keywords: Biosphere reserves, gap analysis, protected areas, Sri Lanka, viability status.


J.Natn.Sci.Foundation Sri Lanka 2011 39(4):303-319

How to Cite: Jayasuriya, A.H.M., Kitchener, D.J. and Biradar, C.M., 2011. Viability status of biosphere reserves in Sri Lanka. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 39(4), pp.303–319. DOI:
Published on 30 Dec 2011.
Peer Reviewed


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