Dec 10, Colombo: With the aim to conserve rare plants native to the dry zone of the country, Sri Lanka is establishing a dry zone botanical garden in the Southern Province.
The 120-hectare Dry Zone Botanical Garden being established in Mirijjavila in the Hambantota district is now nearing completion, the administrator of the garden Sumith Ekanayake says.
According to the administration, the main objective of establishing the new botanic garden is the ex-situ conservation of dry and arid zone plants. Its location on the Colombo-Kataragama main road will also attract a large number of local visitors.
Dry zone represents almost one third of Sri Lankan forest ecosystem, and 95 percent of its vegetation has been lost in the last 20 years alone.
The garden will also provide opportunities for ecotourism and economic development in this area and to model dry zone landscape improvement.
Under the first phase of the project 50 hectares have been planted with about 300 rare plant varieties exclusive in the dry zone. A special Palmyra garden will also be established in 125 acres, Ekanayake says.
The government has spent 100 million rupees on the initial work of the projects that is estimated to cost 350 million rupees, according to the state-run radio SLBC.