Kanneliya Rain Forest


Kanneliya Rain Forest, located in the southwestern part of Sri Lanka, is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a natural paradise. The area is home to a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna, which makes it one of the most significant forest reserves in Sri Lanka. In this article, we will explore the wonders of Kanneliya Rain Forest, including its history, ecosystem, and activities available for visitors.

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History of Kanneliya Rain Forest

The history of the Kanneliya Rain Forest dates back several centuries. Indigenous people called Veddas used to live in the forest. They lived in harmony with nature and made a living from its resources.

In the 18th century, the Dutch occupied Sri Lanka and began exploiting its natural resources, including its forests. The Kanneliya Rain Forest was no exception and was subjected to large-scale logging and other forms of exploitation.

During the British colonial period, which lasted until Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948, the Kanneliya Rain Forest was declared a forest reserve, and efforts were made to protect it. However, despite these efforts, the forest was still subjected to some degree of exploitation, particularly in the form of illegal logging.

The Sri Lankan government has recently protected the Kanneliya Rain Forest and other essential forest areas. In addition, Kanneliya was made a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2004. This was because it was a place with many different plant and animal species and a hotspot for biodiversity.

Today, Kanneliya Rain Forest is a popular destination for eco-tourists, researchers, and nature lovers. They explore its many hiking trails, observe its unique flora and fauna, and learn about the region's rich cultural and ecological history. Efforts are also being made to involve local communities in conservation efforts and to promote sustainable tourism that benefits both the environment and the people who live in and around the forest.

The ecosystem of the Kanneliya Rain Forest

The Kanneliya Rain Forest is a complex ecosystem that supports a diverse range of flora and fauna. The forest is home to many endemic species found nowhere else. The forest is characterized by its dense canopy, which creates a unique microclimate that supports a range of plant and animal life.

The vegetation of the Kanneliya Rain Forest includes a variety of trees, shrubs, and ferns. The forest canopy is dominated by tall trees, including Dipterocarpus zeylanicus, Mesua ferrea, and Shorea stipulates. The forest floor is covered in a dense layer of fallen leaves and decaying plant material, which helps to nourish the soil and support the growth of new plants.

The Kanneliya forest reserve has much endemic flora and fauna, with 17 per cent of lowland endemic floral species confined to this forest area and 41 species living there. Of the 319 woody plants recorded in the Kanneliya forest reserve, about 52 per cent are endemic. The vegetation is representative of the Sri Lankan lowland rainforests, with the floral communities dominated by Shorea, Dipterocarpus, and Mesua plants, which are common in the emergent layer. The forest also harbours numerous medicinal plants and rare plants within the forest, including yellow vine (Continuum fenestrated), Salacia reticulata, heart-leaved moonseed (Tinospora cordifolia), coarse tassel fern (Lycopodium Squarrosum), and rough tassel fern (Lycopodium phlegmatic). 

The Kanneliya forest reserve consists of a series of parallel hills and valleys, ranging in elevation from 60m to 425m above sea level and extending to an area of approximately 5306 hectares. It acts as a catchment for many rivers and streams, including Gin Ganga and Nilwala Ganga, which have their sources within the forest and flow toward the west and the east of the forest, respectively. The forest receives a substantial rainfall of 3,750mm, with a mean annual temperature of 27.0°C, varying from approximately four °C to 5°C. Many ancient taxonomic groups of Gondwana are present in these rainforests, and they also relate to Indo-Malayan plants and animals.

Activities at Kanneliya Rain Forest

The forest offers tourists several trekking and nature trail options with varying difficulty levels. The most popular trails are the Kabbale Mountain Trail, the Anagimale Falls Trail, and the Hiyare Reservoir Trail. The forest also offers opportunities for bird watching, camping, and photography. In addition, the Kanneliya forest reserve has become an important centre for research and education in Sri Lanka. Several universities and research institutions in Sri Lanka and abroad have established field stations in the forest and are researching the unique flora and fauna.

Conservation Efforts at Kanneliya Rain Forest

The conservation of the Kanneliya Rain Forest is essential, given its ecological significance. Therefore, the Sri Lankan government has implemented several measures to protect the forest, including establishing the Kanneliya Conservation Centre and enforcing strict visitor rules and regulations.

The Kanneliya forest reserve faces several challenges to its conservation and sustainable development. The most pressing challenge is the increasing pressure on the forest from human activities, such as agriculture, logging, and encroachment. Climate change is also a primary concern, as it can significantly impact the forest's biodiversity and ecosystem services. Another challenge is the need for more awareness among the general public about the importance of conservation and sustainable development. The way forward for the protection and sustainable development of the Kanneliya forest reserve is to address these challenges through effective policies and strategies. This would require a multi-stakeholder approach involving government agencies, local communities, civil society organizations, and the private sector. It is vital to ensure that all stakeholders share the benefits of conservation and sustainable development and that the local communities are involved in decision-making processes. Education and awareness-raising programs should also be developed to promote the importance of conservation and sustainable development.

Visiting Kanneliya Rain Forest

Visiting Kanneliya Rain Forest is an incredible experience that offers visitors the chance to witness the natural beauty of Sri Lanka while also learning about the country's rich history and culture. The best time to visit the forest is during the dry season, from December to April, as the weather is ideal for trekking and other outdoor activities.

Before visiting the forest, obtaining the necessary permits and following the rules and regulations set by the forest authorities is essential. In addition, visitors are encouraged to respect the forest and its inhabitants by not littering or disturbing the wildlife.

The best way to reach Kanneliya is by road. Visitors can hire a taxi or a tuk-tuk from Galle, which will take around 45 minutes to an hour to reach the forest reserve. It is also possible to take a bus from Galle to the nearby town of Udugama and then hire a tuk-tuk to reach Kanneliya. The forest reserve can be accessed from several different entrances, so it's best to check with the authorities on the most convenient entry point depending on your location and plans.


Q1. What is Kanneliya Forest Reserve?

 A1. Kanneliya Forest Reserve is a protected area of tropical rainforest located in the Galle District of Sri Lanka. It covers an area of approximately 10,139 hectares and is home to various flora and fauna.

Q2. How do I get to Kanneliya Forest Reserve? 

A2. Kanneliya Forest Reserve can be accessed by road from Galle or Matara. Public buses run from Galle and Matara to the nearby town of Udugama, from where you can take a tuk-tuk or taxi to the forest reserve.

Q3. What is the best time to visit Kanneliya Forest Reserve?

 A3. The best time to visit Kanneliya Forest Reserve is from December to March when the weather is dry and cool. However, the forest reserve can be visited throughout the year.

Q4. What kind of wildlife can be found in Kanneliya Forest Reserve?

 A4. Kanneliya Forest Reserve is home to diverse wildlife, including elephants, leopards, deer, wild boar, monkeys, and various bird species.

Q5. Can I go on a guided tour of Kanneliya Forest Reserve? 

A5. Yes, guided tours of Kanneliya Forest Reserve are available. It is recommended to hire a guide to ensure your safety and to get the most out of your visit.

Q6. Are there any accommodation options near Kanneliya Forest Reserve? A6. Yes, there are several guesthouses and hotels in the nearby towns of Udugama and Galle.

Q7. Is it safe to visit Kanneliya Forest Reserve? 

A7. Yes, Kanneliya Forest Reserve is generally considered safe for visitors. However, following safety guidelines and being aware of your surroundings is important.

Q8. Are there any entrance fees for Kanneliya Forest Reserve?

 A8. Yes, there is an entrance fee for Kanneliya Forest Reserve. The fee varies depending on your nationality and whether you are a student or an adult.

Q9. What should I bring with me when visiting Kanneliya Forest Reserve? A9. It is recommended to bring sturdy shoes, insect repellent, sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water. You should also dress appropriately for the weather and be prepared for rain.

Q10. What are the rules and regulations for visiting Kanneliya Forest Reserve? 

A10. Visitors are required to follow certain rules and regulations when visiting Kanneliya Forest Reserve, such as not littering, not disturbing wildlife, and not damaging or removing any plants or animals. Staying on designated trails and obeying your guide's instructions is also important.


1 review 4.00
  • Amal Nanayakkara 4.00
    January 29, 2023

    enjoyable day outing with many enjoyable experiences. A packed lunch in a quiet corner is the most relaxing. the Walk, the views of the waterfalls and the pleasure of swimming in the cool waters of the river. It could be crowded on a public holiday

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