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.
Present situation of forestry
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||Location||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
The NA Tree is a valuable resource which provides an excellent service not only for the people but also for the environment. These trees have expanded over 260 acres of land it is a marvelous scene to have a breath taking look at how they have stretched in that area. NA tree has got a peculiar smell which will enable anybody to sense that NA tree or trees are around. Botanically, NA tree is called “Mesua Ferara” and in English it is called the Iron Wood Tree. The group of NA trees are called Clusaiaceae or Guttiriferae. This significant tree is a native to Sri Lanka, India, Malayasia, Buruma, Thailand, and Papua Neviginnia. Buddhists has a great religious value for NA tree but not only Buddhists other religions also consider it as a sacred resource. It is also a meditation centre for the Buddhist monks around the island and other parts of the world. Iron Wood forest is a unique forest in Sri Lanka where the Iron Wood trees dominate the vegetation of the 260 acres of forest. The whole part of NA is also used herbal medicines and soaps, perfumes, and cosmetics. This was named as the national tree of Sri Lanka. It has been chosen as the national tree for seven reasons.
- It is a tree which originated in Sri Lanka.
- Its utilities
- Historical and cultural importance
- Exterior posture.
- Wide distribution.
- Color and nature.
- Ability to draw and sketch it easily.
This tree grows in mountain places, about 1200mts. above Sea level. The leaves of NA tree is long about 17 cm. and wide about 2 cm., the flower blooms lonely and Diya NA flowers bloom in bunches. NA tree has beautiful bright red leaves and finally matures into deep green shades. NA timber is very hard and have high durability. These woods are not used to build houses and other buildings. They are used to make Devalayas, Temples, Kovil etc. But now cutting or un-rooting of NA trees are prohibited because of it’s religious and medicinal values.
The Teak Tree, or Tectona, is one of the tropical hardwood birches, included in the family Verbenaceae. This tree is originally from the plantations of South East Asia, and can grow to a height of 30 - 40 m. As part of its life cycle, this tree sheds its leaves every year at dry season. Its longevity is very great, the Teak tree often living to an age of 100 years. Teak is especially noted for its capacity to withstand changes in the weather and season. One of the reasons for this is the ability of the Teak to bend, but not break, in the face of high winds. Also, the Teak tree resin typically has an oil in its Galih (Cambium/heartwood) that is highly water resistant. This content alone can protect the Teak from decay, insects, and bacteria. At the same time, the combination of unique Teak tree content and thick fibers make it easier to cut and then later sculpt into pleasing forms. Because of this special characteristic, not found in other trees, there has always been interest in using Teak wood for various types of furniture. The teak trees found in South-East Asia forests reach a height of up to 150 feet, have reddish-green leaves with rough skin, and heartwood that is brown to dark gold in color. Of the main teak producers in the area, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Philippine, and Malaysia, Indonesia's teak is considered of the highest quality in the world. Cultivation and conservation of the Teak tree in Indonesia is managed by the government of Indonesia, Perum Perhutani (Forestation Company of Government). The largest producer of teak in Indonesia is Java. Its geography and weather are highly suitable to Teak tree plantations; Java Island is also a manufacturing center where many furniture workers are employed to process the wood of the Teak tree into unique and beautiful furniture. To get teak wood of the highest quality, there are some things that must be carefully attended to in the retrieval process. The older Teak trees, of up to 40 years in age, are the best ones to be cut. In fact, the older the Teak tree, the better will be the quality of its wood. Before cutting the Teak tree, the water content must be drained from the tree by making a cut at its under side. This draining process takes time, 1 to 2 years, in order to get the Teak tree dry enough that it can be cut into Teak wood, and so ready for its main use as the material for furniture and other products. In India, Teak wood, because of its durability, is used - in addition to its use in furniture and other products - in the production of door and window frames. In Denmark, noted the world over for the stylishness and practicality of its furniture products - with teak, once again, as the main material - because of the increasing demand, and decreasing supply, the price of their furniture products has greatly increased - while in Indonesia, Teak wood is exported abroad and also used as the main material for furniture.