Brief History of Sinharaja Forest Reserve

The forest steeped in deep legend and mystery. The word Sinharaja means, lion (sinha) king (raja) and the popular belief is that the legendary origin of the Sinhala people in Sri Lanka is from the descendants of the union the lion king who once lived in the forest and a princess. Sinharaja Forest Reserve is one of the least disturbed and biologically unique lowland rain forests now remaining in Sri Lanka.

This forest covers an extent of approximately 11187 ha. From east to west the length of the forest is about 21 km. And its width from north to south is about 3.7 km. The Sinharaja forest was initially declared a Man and Biosphere Reserve (MAB) in 1978, as representative of Tropical Humid Evergreen Forest ecosystem in Sri Lanka and has been recognized by UNESCO as part of its International Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Subsequently it was declared a National Wilderness Area, under the National Heritage Wilderness Area Act, in 1988 and lately a World Heritage Site in 1989.It is the Sri Lanka 's first natural resource to earn this esteemed distinction. This forest is situated in the southwest lowland Wet Zone of the country at latitudes 6 21- 6 26 and longitudes 80 21- 80-34.It spans over the administrative districts of Ratnapura, Galle and Matara.

Sinharaja forest consists of a series of continuous ridges, aligned approximately in an east-west direction and lies between the tributaries of the Kalu Ganga in the north and the Gin Ganga in thesouth.There are four main routes of access to Sinharaja.

The Kalawana- Weddagala road from the northwest, The Rakwana-Morning side estate road from the northeast, the Hiniduma-Neluwa road from the southwest and Deniyaya-Pallegama road from the southeast. Among these roads the Kalawana-Weddagala road is shorter and more convenient for visitors traveling from Colombo.