03 March 2009
Pine or Pinus forests are quite common in the hill country, although they are not native trees to Sri Lanka. A mountain covered with pine trees is quite beautiful.
These trees are quite useful. First they grow fast even on less furtile hills, so it helps quick re-forestation and alleviate land slides in arid lands and abandoned tea estates. Secondly, turpentine (The fluid made by destilling the resin obtained from the tree trunk) is used as a solvent for paints. Lastly the wood is quite strong and can be made for good use. The blind side of this is that these trees do not allow any undergrowth. So once you grow these trees it will wipe out rest of the vegetation and even destroy the balance of nature. So planting of pine in hill country needs to be done with caution.
Most of the hiking routes in the hill country fall through these forests. Usually hiking through pine forests is quite easy as there is no undergrowth. You have to be careful with potruding metallic parts used to collect sap of the tree trunk as unknowingly you might easily get hurt. These paths can be quite slippery as well due to thin spiky fallen leaves.
It is quite an adventure to walk through an entire pinus forest and reach your destination!