The indispensable role of biological diversity – the variety of life and their habitats on earth-in maintaining the ecological balance and the functioning of the biosphere has been underscored by the global community by adopting the Convention on Biological Diversity at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro which has now been ratified by over 170 countries including Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is identified as one of the 18 global Hot Spots in Biodiversity for its species richness and habitat diversity and also the threats that this unique biodiversity is faced with owing to habitat conversion, forest fragmentation, over-exploitation of species, air and water pollution and release of exotic invasive species. The depletion of biodiversity will jeopardize economic development and human health through losses of useful products, genetic stocks and services of natural ecosystems.
It has been estimated that nearly 20 per cent of Sri Lanka’s Gross Domestic Product is from agriculture and fisheries and over 75 per cent of the population remain rural and agrarian. Consequently, both indigenous and introduced biodiversity play a major role in sustaining Sri Lankan people and their economy. Having recognized this indispensable role of biodiversity in maintaining the well-being of Sri Lankan people and their economy, a National Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan (BCAP) has been prepared by the Ministry of Forestry & Environment as a framework for action to ensure that the biological diversity of the country is conserved and sustainably used. A tenyear implementation phase has been proposed having identified the goals and objectives, stakeholders and recommended actions.