Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Sri Lanka
Factors affecting the property in 2000*
  • Crop production
  • Land conversion
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Encroachment
  • Need to implement the Management Plan as a priority
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2000
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2000**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2000

New information: The Centre and IUCN received reports in early 2000 from the Environmental Law Foundation of Sri Lanka that raised concerns over possible threats to the integrity of this site due to proposals for organic tea cultivation in a 62 hectares plot of land within the eastern border of the site. These reports were transmitted to the Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to UNESCO for verification and comment. No response has been received at the time of the preparation of this document.

IUCN has informed the Centre that the ownership of this area is not formally vested with the Forest Department by a gazette notification, which should have been published by the Land Reform Commission (LRC). The Provincial Council of Sabaragamuwa has opposed the proposal strongly and now the LRC has informed the Forestry Department (FD) that the leasing out of a block of land from the buffer zone of Sinharaja for the above project has been stopped. In the meantime action has been initiated requesting LRC to vest this area under FD formally by a gazette notification. Furthermore, IUCN has noted that the boundary re-survey of Sinharaja has been completed and visible permanent boundary posts are being fixed by the Forest Department, so that the protection of Sinharaja is further secured. IUCN, Sri Lanka, will also be working with the Forest Department to implement a proposed GEF financed project to conserve Sinharaja, particularly through a programme of buffer zone development activities along the southern boundary.

The Secretariat will request the State Party to provide a detailed report on the steps being taken to stop the release of land within the site for organic tea farming and for preventing the recurrence of similar claims of land in the future. The State Party will be invited to provide a full description of the buffer zone development project along the southern borders of the site for which the State Party is applying for a GEF grant.

Action Required
Note: this report was presented to the Bureau for noting only.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2000

IUCN notes that when fixing visible posts to demarcate the boundary of this site during the implementation of the conservation management plan (1988-93), it has been revealed that there are a number of unauthorised settlements along the southern boundary of the Forest. The Forest Department has initiated action to re-demarcate the boundary, excluding these settlements. In this process more than 1,000ha of natural forest situated along the eastern border of the site, which was not originally included in the World Heritage site, has been identified and set apart to be included as part of the Reserve. It is hoped that the State Party will nominate this area as an extension to the World Heritage site in due course.

IUCN reviewed the letter submitted by the Forest Department of Sri Lanka, dated 2 August 2000 in response to the observations and recommendations of the twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau. In addition, the Centre transmitted to IUCN an additional letter, dated 30 May 2000, from the Sinharaja Plantations Organic Ltd. The Forest Department confirmed that the process to release land to Sinharaja Plantations Organic Ltd. for a tea plantation has been stopped and that the Forest Department is taking steps to obtain legal ownership of the land. Sinharaja Plantations Organic Ltd. has claimed that it had followed all official legal processes in order to possess the land for a organic tea plantation. The company is contesting that this piece of land and the plantation will have any impact on the Forest Reserve as it lies 3 miles (4.8 km) from the boundaries of the World Heritage site.

IUCN Sri Lanka will be working with the Forest Department to implement a proposed GEF-funded project to conserve the south-western rainforests of Sri Lanka. The project will benefit southern parts of the World Heritage site, particularly buffer zone villages, through the creation of opportunities for cottage industries that are mostly based on non-timber forest products. The project will also support boundary-marking, awareness building for biodiversity conservation among rural communities and nature-based tourism. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2000
24 BUR IV.B.78
State of conservation

The Bureau took note of the information provided in the working document on the state of conservation of the following properties:


Comoe National Park (Côte d’Ivoire)

Caves of the Aggtelek and Slovak Karst (Hungary/Slovakia)

The Delegate of Morocco pointed out that the protection of surface water is important in karst systems.

Kaziranga National Park (India)

Lorentz National Park (Indonesia)

Kamchatka Volcanoes (Russian Federation)

Sinharaja Forest Reserve (Sri Lanka)

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda) 


Rock-hewn Churches, Lalibela (Ethiopia)

Vilnius Historic Centre (Lithuania)

City of Cuzco (Peru)

Chavin (Archaeological Site) (Peru)

Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana (Peru)

24 COM VIII.iii
State of conservation reports of natural properties noted by the Committee

 State of conservation reports of natural properties noted by the Committee

Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)

Pirin National Park (Bulgaria)

Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon)

Gros Morne National Park (Canada)

Canadian Rocky Mountains Parks (Canada)

Comoe National Park (Côte d'Ivoire)

Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

Komodo National Park (Indonesia)

Lorenz National Park (Indonesia)

Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest (Kenya)

Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand (New Zealand)

Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman)

Huascarán National Park (Peru)

Danube Delta (Romania)

Lake Baikal (Russian Federation)

Niokolo-Koba National Park (Senegal)

Doñana National Park (Spain)

Sinharaja Forest Reserve (Sri Lanka)

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda)

Gough Island (United Kingdom)

Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania)

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)

Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe)

The Bureau may wish to adopt the following and transmit it to the Committee for noting:

“The Bureau notes that the Forest Department is making efforts to reclaim the land released for organic tea farming and may encounter a legal challenge from the private enterprise concerned. The Bureau requests the Centre and IUCN to monitor further developments on the matter and report on progress to the next extraordinary session of the Bureau in 2001. In the addition, the Bureau invites the State Party to report on steps taken to incorporate 1,000 ha of natural forest to the National Reserve and its eventual inclusion in the World Heritage site.”


Report year: 2000
Sri Lanka
Date of Inscription: 1988
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.