At present, Deforestation is one of the leading environmental issues in the island of Sri Lanka. Despite the many measures and law enforcement, the clearing of land takes place at a rapid pace, removing valuable forest cover in the island. Today, as a percentage only 2.14% of the land surface of Sri Lanka is covered by the rain forests, it is nearly 1415 sq.km of land. Sri Lanka is a country with highest bio-diversity in the world and main contributors of its bio-diversity are the rainforests such as Kanneliya and Sinharaja. Unfortunately, rainforests are the most affected by the deforestation in Sri Lanka.
Kanneliya is an important patch of forest with very high biodiversity in Southern Asia. Kanneliya is not only important forest reserve for Sri Lanka but also for the whole South-Asian region. This valuable natural resource is located in Thawalama in the Galle district. Kanneliya is categorized under the low land and evergreen rainforest similar to Sinharaja. Kanneliya is one of the last remaining rainforests in Sri Lanka.
It was declared as a forest reserve in 1934 and under the purview of forest conservation department. The forest had been more than 6100 hectares in extent as it was declared as a reserve, but the forest has lost a large part of its territory during the last several decades. Some naturalists are of the opinion, that as much as 800 hectares of forest are removed from its territory. The main reason for the shrinking of the forest is the clearing of lands for crops such as tea. There is no proper action taken to stop the clearing of forest and recover the cleared lands that belong to the forest.
Kanneliya is one of the main catchment areas of the Ging ganga (River). Several important water resources such as Tannikina, Kannaliya Ela, Udugama dola, and Homa dola are located in Kanneliya forest reserve. Anagimala Ella, which is 46 meters tall and Narangas Ella with 70 meters height are the two most picturesque waterfalls in the forest.
Kanneliya is located between 60 to 425 meters above the sea level and shows a wide range of landscapes. Most part of the forest is made of semi-mountainous areas. This forest accommodates many isolated mountains; Kabbale Mountain is identified as the most prominent mountain range. Other important mountains in the forest are Kondagala Mountain, Katukitulgala Mountain, Kospal Mountain, Uwalwaruwa Mountain and Thiruwana Mountain.
Kanneliya is a rainforest with very high biodiversity, according to the research conducted by Prof B.M.P kumara; there are 301 different species of trees in the forest.