The Kanneliya, Dediyagala and Nakiyadeniya forest make a complex which is a very important part of the forest cover of the South-western part of sri lanka.these three forests from a single block of lowland rain forest, commonly know as the KDN complex. Kanneliya forest reserve outstands from all due to its uniqueness and is located 35km North-east of Galle.
Kanneliya forest patch covers a total area of 5305.9 ha and comprises a dense forest cover of 5108.2 ha, sparse forest cover of 168.4 ha and and a plantation forest cover of 29.3 ha. The area belongs to the southern lowland floristic zone and the major natural vegetation type is wet evergreen forest, which is a climax forest formation.
The area receives an MAR of about 4445 mm mainly from the South-west monsoon. The MAT is around 27'C. Kanneliya forest plays a very important role as a watershed as it supportsheadwaters and leading streams of several tributaries (eg. Kanneliya ela, Nannkitha ela and Udugama dola) of the Gin gaga.The mainpeaks located within the reserve are Kondagala, Kabbale kanda , Katukithulgala kanda, Kospalaketiya kanda and Thiruwana kande.
The forest has been subjected to selective logging from 1940 to 1987. There fore, There, the Forest Department has developed plan for management and development of the forest. today, kanneliya forest harbors a unique essemlage of flora and fauna, which includes many endemics and several relicts.
From Kanneliya to Galle town, travel along the Galle-Udugama road or the Southern Expressway through the Baddegama Entrance, Udugama and the narrow passage from the Udugama to Hiniduma road to the Nannikita Canal. “The reserve meets. It is also one of the most valuable forests in South Asia with the rich flora and fauna of particular interest to biodiversity enthusiasts.
A bit of the past
The history of Kanneliya dates back to the reign of the king. Legend has it that King Vijayabahu and Solin fought in these areas. Some believe that Kanneliya was broken from the virgin light, and some say that Kanneliya became the place where King Walagamba gave his rice to a hungry woman while she was hiding in the area.
In 1934, the Forest Department declared the Kanneliya Forest as a Forest Reserve. Later, in the early 1990s, they moved to designate it as a conservation forest. It was declared an International Biosphere Reserve in 2004 under UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Program.
The Kanneliya Forest Reserve has a high biodiversity with a height of 60–425 m with hills and valleys. It also records the highest biodiversity in a single region. Therefore, this forest is known as the Bio Diversity Hot Spot. Despite the high biodiversity, there are only a few primary forests. The secondary forests of newly planted trees are found throughout the forest. The reason for this is that from the 1960s until the late 1970s, the Thinley Lorry Corporation's Galle Gintota factory had been severely damaged by the need to obtain timber for the production of thin sawdust.
Even today, timber-cutting buildings and paved road systems can be seen in the forest. The forest has grown so thick that the timber for timber has stopped, and the signs of deforestation have disappeared.
301 species of plants have been recorded from the Kanneliya forest. These species include plants, shrubs and plants, 25% of which are endemic to Sri Lanka. Of these species, 15 are endangered and 26 are listed as endangered. The forest is also known as the wet zone forest which has the highest percentage of endemic species (60%) of the wet zone forests.
Kanneliya has a high level of animal diversity, unlike any other rainforest. About 120 species of birds have been identified, out of which 23 are endemic to Sri Lanka. About 20 species of mammals have been identified in the forest, of which the bull is the largest herbivore and the leopard is the largest carnivore.
In addition, 19 amphibians have been identified through the reserve. Rack frogs, bark frog and reef frogs are the main ones. The Indian snake, the largest snake found in Sri Lanka, has been identified as 50 reptile species including sea crocodiles, papaya and dupatta.
More than 53 species of butterflies have been identified in the forest and several species of lizards such as Phineum lizard, Bodilima, Rough horn lizard and Gatodha lizard have been identified.
A number of nature trails in the forest have been created to give eco-travelers the opportunity to experience the best of nature's wonders. These include Cave Lane, Anagimala Ella Trail, Yoda Puswale Trail, Giant Nada Ganga Path, Narangas Ella Trail and Kabbale Kanda.
Entering the forest, you will find a cool, natural bath with flowing water in the reserve. Bathing in the waterfalls found in the forest is not allowed, but at the end of the tour you are allowed to take a bath. Walking down the path through the jungle, it is undoubtedly a refreshing experience. A small stream flows through it, and hundreds of bats inhabit it. Experience the darkness and coolness of the cave, and on the other side of the forest, go down 300 meters from the second resting place of the forest and cross the wooden bridge to see the beautiful water of the forest, Anagimala Falls.
As you proceed past the entrance to the Anagimala Falls, you will find a giant pussy tree spread over an area of about one hectare. This is second only to the Sinharaja tree. Another 5km along the trail gives you the chance to see the Giant Nanda tree. This is a tree with a heritage of 300-500 years. The guide who assisted us said that the tree was a remnant of the trees that were cut down during the time of the palette corporation. Going a little further from there, you will find the last resting place of the forest. Food can be obtained from this place if needed. On the way down, one can see the Narangas Falls, which is 200 feet high with a spectacular view.
In addition to these trails, you can also climb Mount Kabbale, which takes a day. Climbing the mountain is a pleasant experience and the top of the hill offers a breathtaking view of the Galle town.