Biodiversity, Historic Importance and Threats of Garanduwa Lagoon Situated in Mirissa Tourist Zone A Case Study
Out of 89 lagoons, Garanduwa is the only lagoon located nearly 3 km away from the sea that
comes under atoll lagoon. The extent is approximately 65 km2. It is located in association
with unexplored southern coast and belongs to five Gramaseva divisions; Udupila,
Thanhagoda, Garanduwa, Henwala, and Thalaramba in Matara district. It is intermittently
connected to ocean by two restricted inlets; Mirissa, Udupila and Thalaramba. A case study
was conducted to investigate the biodiversity, historic background and the threats in
association with the tourist industry. A reconnaissance survey was carried out in the morning
and evening by a catamaran boat to identify fauna and flora. Thirty five villages were
interviewed by a questionnaire to gather information on the history and prevailing threats.
Garanduwa lagoon hosts rich assemblages of different species. Variation of muddy and sandy
sediments is home to a rich biodiversity. Different variety of trees, many insects, reptiles,
amphibians, birds, mammals thrive in the habitat. More than 20 bird species were recorded.
Wooly-necked storks, Indian pond heron, Ceylon blue magpies, common babler, Ceylon hill
mynah, crimpson backed wood peckers, little egret, larger egret, spot billed pelican, Ceylon
green pigeon, purple coot, black robin, Southern common babler, scimitors, paradise fly
catchers, orioles, chaffinchs and bats were prominent. Breadfruit and its wild species, Kirala,
Kadol, Jak fruit, Cashew nut, Hog plum, Grosse sapota, Kekuna, Bael fruit were the
prominent tree species. Variety of crab species were found among the roots, on the trunks and
within the canopy. The name “Garanduwa” derived from a Sanscrit term because of the
presence of many crocodiles in the past. At present crocodiles became extinct. Ancient prince
named “Keerthi” (10th century), later became as the King 1 Wijayabahu built his palace in the
island within the lagoon. The king was adorned with the sword to the battle against Solli at
the palace was called as “Siribandala Palace” and still the ruins are remaining. Because o f
close proximity to many tourist hotels, there is a potential to build tourist hotels by
destructing the nature and will be a potential site for sewage accumulation. Therefore, it is
timely important to save this wetland for a sustainable utilization and thereby encourage ecotourism.
Keywords: Atoll lagoon, Biodiversity, Garanduwa, History, Threats
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Proceedings of International Forestry and Environment Symposium, Sri Lanka. Published by Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura