Forests cover in Sri Lanka started declining with the introduction of commercial crops. Clearing of forests for agricultural and residential purposes. further contributed in reducing the natural forest cover.


In year 1900, the total land area covered by forests was 70% and today it constitute a lower figure of 23.9%


According to the census in 1950 the forests cover was established as 44%, in 1983 27% and in 1992 it was 23.9%. the total forests cover is around 30.8% of the total land area of Sri Lanka including other forests.


It seems that about 40,000 ha of forest area cleared every year.


Classification of forest is done by different groups in different ways and the classification done by the Department of forest Conservation using elevation and rainfall is as follows.


Forests Type
Area (Ha)
Montane Forest 1500mm above sea level 3,108
Sub Montane Forest 1000-1500m from mean sea level 68,616
Lowland Rain Forest Up to 1000m from mean sea level 141,506
Moist Monsoon Forest Below 1000m 24,386
Dry Monsoon Forest Below 600m from mean Sea level 109,081
Riverine Forest Below 600m from mean Sea level 22,435
Mangrove Forest Inter tidal marshy lands 8,688
Source: Census in 1992

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