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Kirala Kelle

Kirala Kelle, Matara, South Coast, Sri Lanka.
Location : Matara
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Overview
Kirala Kelle, as the Sinhalese name implies, is a ‘mangrove forest’ covering an area of 1,800 ha, accessible from Matara-Hakmana and Matara-Akuressa roads and three km from Matara. It is comprised of marshlands, irrigation cannels, and mangrove habitats. Home gardens can be found in the immediate boundary of the wetland.
It is an important wetland supporting many species of plants and animals. The Nilwala Flood Protection works and expanding agriculture has changed the ecology of the forest. A network recently repaired of irrigation canals has restored the water flow in the mangrove area.
Kirala Kelle today stands as an ideal habitat for wetland biodiversity, and is considered as one of the most valuable conservation areas in the Matara District. Being close to Matara town, it is a potential site for nature-based tourism.
Presence of fossils of the window pane oysters (Placenta placenta) in the area indicates that the area has been subjected to inundation by sea water during the Pleistocene period.
Kirala Kele supports about 35,000 people from 11 surrounding Grama Niladari divisions. There are about 16,000 living in the immediate surroundings of the wetland system. Many people use the wetland for raising cattle, growing paddy and other crops and fishing.

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