In Sri Lanka, nature is at the center of cultural symbolism, state power, and economic activity. As human communities learn how to balance reverence for nature and a desire for enrichment at its expense, Sri Lanka offers an interesting case study that is simultaneously hopeful and cautionary.
While many ecosystems are still intact in Sri Lanka, this has oftentimes come at the expense of traditional ways of life. Indigenous people have been banned from continuing important cultural practices to make way for new protected areas and to accommodate the needs of urban areas. While this is one way to protect nature, engaging Indigenous populations who are the oldest stewards of the land, to work with ancient cultural values preserves the highest quality nature. Around the world, the lands of indigenous peoples continue to shelter the most biodiversity.
Ecologically intact & protected landscapes comprise 50% or more of this country.
Intact landscapes lacking protected status comprise 50% or more of this country.
Between 20-40% of landscapes are still ecologically intact.
Less than 20% of the natural ecology of this area is intact.
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With the highest leopard concentration in the world, it’s no surprise that Yala is the most visited Sri Lanka protected area.
One of the few remaining pristine coral reefs in Sri Lanka, bar reef has the greatest biodiversity of any coral reef near the Indian Ocean.
Asian elephants and migratory find refuge in this sanctuary which is subject to illegal logging to make way for banana plantations.