The Knuckles Conservation Forest with multiple peaks rising about 2,500 meters above sea-level, are home to an extraordinary diversity of fauna and flora including numerous endemic species.


Some of the impressive peaks of the Knuckles Mountain Range

The Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment of Sri Lanka under the Eco-Systems Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP) funded by the World Bank conducted a 3 day workshop in the Knuckles World Heritage Conservation Forest from September 14th to the 16th to develop an Action Plan to implement a sustainable ecotourism programme. The Knuckles Mountain Range in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka along with the Peak Wilderness Protected Area and the Horton Plains National Park is considered a super biodiversity hotspot and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Knuckles Conservation Forest with multiple peaks rising about 2,500 meters above sea-level, are home to an extraordinary diversity of fauna and flora including numerous endemic species.

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A group of the workshop participants visiting the Mini World's End

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The view from the Mini World's End

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A Forest Department Ranger explaining the challenges of managing unruly visitors to Knuckles

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These forests are globally important and provide habitat for an incredible number of endemic species of flora and fauna. The Central Highlands consist of the largest and least disturbed remaining areas of the submontane and montane rain forests of Sri Lanka, which have been identified as a global conservation priority. More than half of Sri Lanka’s endemic vertebrates, half of the country’s endemic flowering plants and more than 34% of its endemic trees, shrubs, and herbs are restricted to these diverse montane rain forests and adjoining grassland areas.

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Green Pit Viper


Highland Hump-nosed Viper


Knuckles-Shrub-Frog (Pseudophilautus fulvus)


The endemic Marbled Streamlined Frog (Nannophrys-marmorata)

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The sambar is the largest species of deer in Sri Lanka and it inhabits the Knuckles Mountains

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The purple-faced leaf langur (Semnopithecus vetulus) known commonly as the bear monkey is endemic to Sri Lanka. Pic by Chien C. Lee


Ceratophora is a genus of agamid lizards found only in Sri Lanka


The Knuckles bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus soba ) is a gecko endemic to Sri Lanka.

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The Workshop on Ecotourism Development in Knuckles World Heritage was held to identify current issues and concerns and to adapt best practices to safeguard the biodiversity of the Knuckles while providing an unprecedented nature experience to visitors.

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Heading to Sera Ella

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Sera Ella

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Vandalism at a World Heritage Site

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One of the last remaining few unspoiled rural villages in Sri Lanka

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A herd of dwarf buffalo endemic to the villages in the Knuckles grazing in the fields

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The villages of Attanwala warmly welcomed the workshop delegates

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The villagers had prepared a truly traditional meal for the delegates

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Chandima was the first to hit the buffet...

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A refreshing change - eating traditional cuisine in a traditional manner - food served on a lotus leaf in a woven basket.

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Conservator General of the Forest Department, Anura Sathurusinghe thanking the villagers of Attanwala for their warm hospitality

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Divisional Secretary Ratota, Dinipriya, SLWCS President Ravi and Operations Manager Chinthaka with the impressive monolith Manigala in the background

The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society was invited to participate in the Workshop. Other participants included personnel from the Forest Department, Ministry of Mahaweli Development and various local stakeholders. Three of the SLWCS’ staff personnel: Chandima Fernando, Chinthaka Weerasinghe and Chathuranga Dharmarathne assisted as facilitators to the three panels that were convened and assigned the responsibility to identify issues, concerns and solutions.

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Mr.Wasantha Dissanayake, Additional Secretary (Environment Policy and Planning, Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment presenting the ectourism plan for the Knuckles

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ESCAMP Project Director Anura De Silva introducing Chandima, Chinthaka & Chathuranga

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Chandima acting as facilitator to Group 2 that worked on Social and Cultural aspects, tourism related livelihoods and mitigation of negative impacts of tourism

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Chathuranga acting as facilitator to Group 1 that worked on Infrastructure and infrastructure related aspects

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Chinthaka acted as the facilitator to Group 3 that worked on Capacity improvement of stakeholders and tourism carrying capacity

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SLWCS President Ravi presenting the findings from the observations and discussions of the Group 3 panel members

The SLWCS is hopeful that all of these initial efforts by the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment will lead to establishing the Summits to Sea (S3) Initiative the Society has been proposing for the past 18 years. If the government of Sri Lanka commits to establishing the S3 Initiative, a land area of 16,956 square kilometers (6,547 square miles) extending over the Central, North Central and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka covering the Knuckles Mountains to the territorial waters and coast in Trincomalee will be preserved for posterity. Such a commitment by the government to save our remaining wilderness areas will elevate Sri Lanka to the highest pinnacle of environmental consciousness and gain the country international recognition as a leader in visionary environmental stewardship.


The Summits to Sea (S3) Initiative will save a vast landscape from our mountains to...


...the ocean and everything in between.


A large herd of elephants feeding in the river valleys located between the mountains and the ocean


Summits to Sea (S3) Initiative will set new benchmarks in environmental conservation in Sri Lanka as well as globally

Photo Credits:

Indika Sampath/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS
Knuckles Stag Corridor
Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society

Big, rumbling thanks to our Corporate Partners for their kind support and to everyone who has donated and supported our wildlife conservation efforts!

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