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Government Gazette

Hambantota botanical garden:

A training centre of Botany and flora

As everyone is aware Hambantota is in the dry zone which is said to experience a poor rainfall compared with the rest of the country. When it comes to a botanical garden one may think that it is ridiculous to convert an ordinary land into a botanical garden in such a dry area. Owing to this climatic condition establishing a botanical garden in dry areas like Hambantota is really a challenge.

Botanical Garden and flowerbeds. Pictures by Indrajith Perera

We were also in that category of persons with reservations until the Daily News recently visited the dry zone Botanical Garden established in Hambantota.

Moreover steps were not taken to establish a new botanical garden for decades until measures were taken to commence the dry zone botanical garden at Mirijjawila, Hambantota, the Officer in Charge of the dry zone botanical garden Sumith Ekanayake said.

Dry zone forest vegetation is one of the fastest disappearing habitats in Sri Lanka and 98 percent of dry zone forest vegetation has been lost within the Hambantota area in the past 30 years. Accordingly, the main purpose of establishing the new garden is to conserve dry and arid zone plants and save them from extinction.

The new botanical gardens will provide for the conservation of dry and arid zone flora. Additionally, researchers and interested parties will be able to study less known and under-utilized plants in the dry zone.

Tourist attraction

When it comes to tourist attraction, especially foreign tourists are keen on gathering knowledge about Dry zone landscape improvement, herbal industry promotion etc. Moreover the botanical garden will be an educational and training centre of Botany and flora, Ekanayake added.

The garden will feature plants that are less known and under-utilized in the dry zone to assist the promotion of the herbal industry while achieving economic growth in the area as a tourist attraction, Ekanayake added.

Since 1876 a botanical garden has not been established in Sri Lanka until it was proposed to establish a new Botanical Garden in Southern Sri Lanka, close to Hambantota. The proposed site for the new botanical garden situated at Mirijjawila on the Suriyawewa-Hambantota Road is an ideal place for a botanical garden. This road is widely known as ‘Adi Seeya Para’.

The location is characterized by scrub jungle and dry zone plants. Since the location consists of 300 acres it will accommodate both the short and long term needs of the botanical garden. The garden is rich enough to have natural water resources which are sufficient to meet water requirement as a small lake Baragam Wila is situated inside the garden.

Water storage

Nursery - plants which are suitable for dry zone

The lake can be used as the main place for water storage and a garden feature as well. The drainage system has been designed so as to drain rainwater into the lake wherever possible.

The dry zone supports a large number of medicinal plants that are being used in medication in Sri Lanka at present. These plants can be used in the development of the herbal industry in the country which is among the fastest growing industries in countries in this region.

Herbal industry

Therefore, the garden will become a centre for the promotion of the herbal industry which can be developed to meet the market potential.

Floriculture has also been highlighted as an area of both national policy priority and where worldwide growth is also marked significantly.

A dry zone botanical garden has significant conservation benefits. Sri Lanka is one of 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Biological diversity is known to have declined at an unprecedented rate due to many reasons such as habitat loss, fragmentation, invasive alien species, over-exploitation or over-harvesting, pollution of soil, water and atmosphere, desertification, global warming and climate change, industrialization and economic development, Ekanayake said.

No doubt the Botanical Garden will pave the way to attract both domestic and foreign tourists while Southern Sri Lanka has been earmarked as a development zone for tourism under the Mahinda Chinthana.

We are experienced in running the national botanical gardens at Peradeniya and Hakgala for a long time which have proved profitability as tourist attractions.

The new Dry Zone Garden will follow this established and tried and tested pattern. Since the new garden will support and encourage especially local tourism, it is expected to be a boon to tour-related services such as providing accommodation, travel and product sales, Ekanayake noted.


LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka
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