Morningside and Knuckles Mountains, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s wildlife is represented by many globally unique and threatened species. Nowhere on this island nation is endemism and threat as high as within the few remaining cloud forests. Less than 5% of Sri Lanka’s original cloud forests remain due to widespread clearing of forests for cultivation of commercial crops, primarily tea. Remaining cloud forests hang on mostly in small patches among mountain peaks and ridges within the three highland regions in the southwest quadrant of the island. These regions include the Knuckles, the Central Highlands, and the Southern Highlands. An area of cloud forest named Morningside, located adjacent to the eastern border of the Sinharaja World Heritage Site and the Knuckles Range, particularly noteworthy and unique. These forests are the only home in the world for at least 20 Endangered and Critically Endangered species, and provide critical habitat for a total of 30 species threatened with extinction.
The new Morningside Reserve technically covers approximately 1,000 ha, but two large areas in the center of the reserve and a number of smaller areas within it are devoid of forest due to clearing for tea cultivation and other activities 50 to 100 years ago. GWC and the University of Peradeniya have embarked on a project to restore lost cloud forest within the Morningside Reserve in order to ensure a more secure future for the many endangered species that depend on this unique site. Future opportunities may permit outward expansion of the reserve. Restoration of the habitats around the current perimeter would be based on what is learned from the current project to reforest areas within the existing reserve, as well as at key sites within the Knuckles Range to the north.