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  FORESTRY SYMPOSIUM 1996
ECO - TOURISM IN THE CENTRAL PROVINCE - A SUSTAINABLE OPTION

H Amararathna
University of Peradeniya

The Central Province with its diverse landscape with the Wasgomuwa National Park, Popham's Arboretum at Dambulla, Knuckles Reserve, Victoria-Randenigala-Rantambe Sanctuary, Udawatthakelle Sanctuary, Hantana Range, Gannoruwa Forest, Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve, Horton Plains National Park, Pidurutalagala, Kekeliamanna forests and Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, consists of a variety of ecosystems, habitats, plant and animal species enhancing the biological richness in the country. These natural resources not only provide material wealth for humans but also intangible ecological processes for the well-being of all. If properly managed, these natural resources can offer substantial advantages to boost the economy of the country. Proper management requires an exposure of the resources as well as an understanding of the ecological and biological processes of the natural systems. Optimizing the natural resources use through eco-tourism would earn valuable foreign exchange, while conserving the resources. Such efforts will require that information is readily available as a guide to access the ecologically/environmentally and biologically rich sites. Since such a document is not available for eco-tourism, a user guide is developed. The study identifies the habitats in the Central Province for nature lovers and presents information to assist a nature lover to visit and enjoy the sites. Information on ten sites of ecological significance and waterfalls of the Central Province were gathered and arranged in an attractive way with access maps, routes etc. Photographs, symbols of featured wild life, wild flowers of the sites and symbols for facilities are provided. Although the Central Province has a comparative advantage in biological diversity, outstanding natural areas for a variety of recreational uses, facilities for wild life viewing, hiking, and nature tourism are almost nil. The potential to improve the sites for nature tourism is enormous, and an attractive opportunity for sustainable economic and environmental gains is offered. However, the ecosystems identified in this study may have limited carrying capacity for human impact. Such impact must be limited so as to sustain ecosystems that draw people to them.

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Department of Forestry and Environmental Science,
University of Sri Jayewardenepura,Sri Lanka. 1999. All rights reserved.