Sri Lanka

29.9% —or about 1,933,000 hectares—of Sri Lanka is forested. Of this, 8.6% —or roughly 167,000 hectares—is classified as primary forest, the most biodiverse form of forest.

Change in Forest Cover: Between 1990 and 2000, Sri Lanka lost an average of 26,800 hectares of forest per year. The amounts to an average annual deforestation rate of 1.14%. Between 2000 and 2005, the rate of forest change increased by 25.5% to 1.43% per annum. In total, between 1990 and 2005, Sri Lanka lost 17.7% of its forest cover, or around 417,000 hectares. Sri Lanka lost -90,000 hectares—0—of its primary forest cover during that time. Deforestation rates of primary cover have decreased 35.0% since the close of the 1990s. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion (defined as change in forest area plus change in woodland area minus net plantation expansion) for the 1990-2005 interval, Sri Lanka lost 17.6% of its forest and woodland habitat.

Biodiversity and Protected Areas: Sri Lanka has some 751 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 21.7% are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 11.9% are threatened. Sri Lanka is home to at least 3314 species of vascular plants, of which 26.9% are endemic. 9.6% of Sri Lanka is protected under IUCN categories I-V.

Sri Lanka Environmental profile


Sri Lanka: Forest Cover, 2005
Total Land Area (ha)6,463,000
Total Forest Area (ha)1,933,000
Percent Forest Cover29.91%
Primary Forest Cover (ha)167,000
Primary Forest, % total forest8.64%
Primary Forest, % total land2.58%
Other wooded land (ha)-

Sri Lanka : Forest types
Tropical (% forest area)100%
Subtropical (% forest area)0%
Temperate (% forest area)0%
Boreal/polar (% forest area)0%

Sri Lanka: Breakdown of forest types, 2005
Primary forest (ha | %)167,0008.6%
Modified natural (ha | %)1,571,00081.3%
Semi-natural (ha | %)--
Production plantation (ha | %)171,0008.8%
Production plantation (ha | %)24,0001.2%

Sri Lanka: Change in Forest Cover
Forest 1990 (ha)2,350,000
Forest 2000 (ha)2,082,000
Forest 2005 (ha)1,933,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(26,800)-1.14%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(29,800)-1.43%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(417,000)-17.74%
Change in rate (%)25.51%
Primary 1990 (ha)257,000
Primary 2000 (ha)197,000
Primary 2005 (ha)167,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(6,000)-2.33%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(6,000)-3.05%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(90,000)-35.02%
Change in rate (%)30.46%
Other 1990 (ha)-
Other 2000 (ha)-
Other 2005 (ha)-
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)-#DIV/0!
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)-#DIV/0!
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)-#DIV/0!
Change in rate (%)#DIV/0!
Other 1990 (ha)242,000
Other 2000 (ha)221,000
Other 2005 (ha)195,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(2,100)-0.87%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(5,200)-2.35%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(47,000)-19.42%
Change in rate (%)171.15%
Forest area+Wooded Area-Plantations
Other 1990 (ha)2,108,000
Other 2000 (ha)1,861,000
Other 2005 (ha)1,738,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(24,700)-1.17%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(24,600)-1.32%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(370,000)-17.55%
Change in rate (%)12.81%

Sri Lanka: Primary
Primary or "old-growth" vegetation
Primary Forest 2005 (ha)167,000
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)-
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)167,000
Undisturbed vegetation 2005 (% land area)2.58%

Sri Lanka: Forest designation
Ownership of forest land, 2000
Public (%)92.5%
Private (%)7.5%
Other (%)-
Ownership of other wooded land, 2000
Public (%)-
Private (%)-
Other (%)-
Designated functions of forest – primary function 2005
Production (%)8.8%
Protection (%)1.0%
Conservation (%)28.9%
Social Services (%)-
Multiple Services (%)61.3%
None of Unknown (%)-

Sri Lanka: Disturbances affecting forest land 2000
Forest Area annually affected by
Fire (%)0.00%
Insects (ha)-
Diseases (ha)-
Other (ha)0.00%

Sri Lanka: Protected areas
Protected areas
Biosphere reserves, 2005
Wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites), 20053
World Heritage sites, 20047
Protected Areas: IUCN categories I-V, percent of total land9.6%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories Ia, Ib, and II, extent, percent of total land6.39%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories III, IV, and V, percent of total land, 20043.33%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories VI and other, percent of total land, 20040.00%

Sri Lanka: Biodiversity - Wildlife
total species66
endemic species40
threatened species44
total species381
endemic species31
threatened species16
total species123
endemic species12
threatened species21
total species181
endemic species80
threatened species8
Wildlife diversity
total species751
endemic species163
threatened species89

Sri Lanka: Biodiversity - Plants
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Number of Native tree species
Native tree species932
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Critically Endangered78
Vascular Plant Species, 2004
Number endemic890
Number of Threatened Plant Species, 2004
Species threatened280

Sri Lanka: Value of forests
Biomass stock in forest, 2005
Above-ground biomass (M t)64
Below-ground biomass (M t)15
Dead wood (M t)9
Total (M t)88
Carbon stock in forest, 2005
Carbon in above-ground biomass (M t)32
Carbon in below-ground biomass (M t)8
Carbon in dead wood (M t)4
Carbon in litter (M t)4
Soil carbon (M t)-
Change in growing stock 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate (1000 cubic m/yr)
Growing stock per hectare 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate ( cubic m/ha per yr)
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (1000 cubic m)763
Wood fuel (1000 cubic m)5,879
Total wood removal 2005 (1000 cubic m)6,642
Total wood removal 2005 (% of growing stock)16
Plant products 2005
Food (t)-
Fodder (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)-
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Raw material for utensils, handicrafts & construction (t)-
Ornamental plants (t)-
Exudates (t)-
Other plant products (t)-
Animal products 2005
Living animals (units)-
Hides, skins and trophies (units)-
Wild honey and bee-wax (t)-
Bush meat (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)-
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Other edible animal products (t)-
Other non-edible animal products (t)-
Value of wood and non-wood forest product removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (US$)$45,796,000
Wood fuel (US$)$35,484,000
Non-wood forest products (US$)-
Total value (US$)$81,280,000
Total value ($USD/ha)$42
Employment in forestry 2000
Total people employed6,000

Sri Lanka : Production, trade and consumption of forest products, 2002
Woodfuel ('000 cubic m), 2002
Industrial roundwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Sawnwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Wood-based panels ('000 cubic m), 2002
Pulp for paper ('000 metric tons), 2002
Paper and paperboard ('000 metric tons), 2002
Sri Lanka: Environment
Environment - current issuesdeforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by poaching and urbanization; coastal degradation from mining activities and increased pollution; freshwater resources being polluted by industrial wastes and sewage runoff; waste disposal; air pollution in Colombo
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Natural hazardsoccasional cyclones and tornadoes

Sri Lanka: Land use / Resources
Land use (%)arable land: 13.86%
permanent crops: 15.7%
other: 70.44% (2001)
Natural resourceslimestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydropower

Sri Lanka: Economy
Economy - overview:In 1977, Colombo abandoned statist economic policies and its import substitution trade policy for market-oriented policies and export-oriented trade. Sri Lanka's most dynamic sectors now are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, telecommunications, and insurance and banking. In 2003, plantation crops made up only 15% of exports (compared with 93% in 1970), while textiles and garments accounted for 63%. GDP grew at an average annual rate of about 5.5% in the 1990s, but 2001 saw the first contraction in the country's history -1.4%, due to a combination of power shortages, severe budgetary problems, the global slowdown, and continuing civil strife. Growth recovered to 5% between 2002 and 2005. About 800,000 Sri Lankans work abroad, 90% in the Middle East. They send home about $1 billion a year. The struggle by the Tamil Tigers of the north and east for a largely independent homeland continues to cast a shadow over the economy. In late December 2004, a major tsunami took about 31,000 lives, left more than 6,300 missing and 443,000 displaced, and destroyed an estimated $1.5 billion worth of property.
GDP - per capita$4,300 (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate (%)4.7% (2005 est.)
Agriculture - productsrice, sugarcane, grains, pulses, oilseed, spices, tea, rubber, coconuts; milk, eggs, hides, beef
GDP - composition by sector (%)agriculture: 17.7%, industry: 27.1%, services: 55.2% (2005 est.)
Industries rubber processing, tea, coconuts, and other agricultural commodities; telecommunications, insurance, and banking; clothing, cement, petroleum refining, textiles, tobacco
Economic aid - recipient$577 million (1998)
Debt - external$11.59 billion (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line (%)22% (1997 est.)
Labor force - by occupation (%)agriculture 38%, industry 17%, services 45% (1998 est.)

Sri Lanka: Population / Demographics
Population (July 2005)20,064,776
Population growth rate (%) (2005)0.79%
Population density (people/sq km) (2005)309.9
Percent rural (2003)79.0%
Median age (years)total: 29.44 years
Total fertility rate (children born/woman)1.85 (2005 est.)
Ethnic groups (%)Sinhalese 73.8%, Sri Lankan Moors 7.2%, Indian Tamil 4.6%, Sri Lankan Tamil 3.9%, other 0.5%, unspecified 10% (2001 census provisional data)

Largest Cities in Sri Lanka

Cities and urban areas in Sri Lanka with population over 100,000 All figures are estimates for 2002.

CityCountryCity PopulationUrban Area Population
ColomboSri Lanka7849002409000
JaffnaSri Lanka162000162000
KandySri Lanka152200152200

 Environment, Land use / Resources, Economy, Population / Demographics, Infrastructure, Health -- CIA World Factbook, 2005
 Forest Cover, Forest types, Breakdown of forest types, Change in Forest Cover, Primary forests, Forest designation, Disturbances affecting forest land, Value of forests, Production, trade and consumption of forest products -- The FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS's Global Forest Resources Assessment (2005) and the State of the World’s Forests (2005, 2003, 2001)
 Protected Areas, Plant and animal biodiversity -- United Nations Environment Programme - World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). 2004. World Database on Protected Areas.
 Biosphere reservers -- United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - Man and Biosphere Program. 2004. UNESCO - MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory.
 RAMSAR sites -- The Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands . 2005. The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
 World Resources Institute's EarthTrends web site
 The 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
 Population Data -- United Nations Population Fund
 With additional analysis by Rhett Butler of

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