Forests of Kerala are broadly classified into 5 major categories. They are :
|#||Forest Type||Area (lakh ha.)|
|1||Tropical Wet Evergreen Forest||3.480|
|2||Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests||4.100|
|3||Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests||0.094|
|4||Mountain Sub Tropical Forests||0.188|
Much of the forest cover of Kerala is spread over the Western Ghats.The Western Ghats represents on of the world's 18 hot spots of bio-diversity and is considered to be a repository of endemic, rare and endangered flora and fauna. There are 28 vegetation types in the state, but the existence of most is doubtful. 51% of the total forest cover is in the southern districts and the remaining 49 percent is in the central and northern regions. Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts have the largest area under forest cover. Alappuzha is the only district without any area under forest cover.
Over the past years the state government had taken a number of steps towards the conservation of forest and wildlife. The state government banned clear felling of natural forest in 1983. With the aid of various organizations, including the World Bank, the government has implemented various programmes for the afforestation of degraded forests. These include Community afforestation, compensatory afforestation and general forestry programmes.
At present there are 5 National Parks in Kerala - Silent Valley National Park, Eravikulam National Park, Paampadum Shola National Park, Aanamudi Shola National Park and Mathikettaan Shola National Park. Apart from this, there are 11 Wild life Sanctuaries, 2 Bird Sanctuary and a Tiger Reserve - Periyar Tiger Reserve, in the state. In the beginning of the 19th century 75% of Kerala was under forest cover which diminished to 50% by the beginning of 20th century. To avoid further degradation, most of the forest area were brought under Reserve Forest.
Wildlife: The forests of Kerala are home to rare and magnificent wild life like the wild Elephant, Tiger, Panther, Indian Bison and Nilgiri tahr. The Silent Valley National Park is home to the endangered Lion-Tailed Macaques.Apart from this the wildlife population of Kerala includes Gaur, Spotted Deer, Sambar, the endangered Giant Grizzled Squirrel, Hanuman Langur, Sloth Bear, Flying Squirrels, jungle cat, wild boar, a variety of monkey species, Leopards, Wolves, Wild Dogs, Civet Cats etc.. Kerala's forests are also home to a variety of reptiles like King Cobras, Vipers, Pythons, Rat Snakes, Cobras, different varieties of lizards, Turtles and crocodiles etc.
Kerala is also home to a wide population of birds of various species like the great and grey hornbill, darters, cormorants, mynahs, Peacock, oriels, racket-tailed and other drongoes, bulbuls, kingfishers, woodpeckers, Ceylon frogmouth, jungle fowl, parakeets, ducks etc.. Also, Kerala is visited each year by a variety of migratory birds.
Vegetation : Though the state is small in size with comparatively small area under forest cover, Kerala is the medley of a variety of vegetations and forest types. The forest types of Kerala include Tropical Wet Evergreen Forests, Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests, Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests, Mountain Sub Tropical, Rolling Grasslands, Shola Forest, Thorny Scrub Forest, high Sholas etc.. This wide range of forest types enables the growth of a rich variety of flora. The trees of the Tropical Dense Evergreen Forests are - White Pine, Kuntherekka Pine, Punnappa, Bhadraksham, Palai, Vediplavu, Maravuri, Vayana etc.. The Moist Deciduous Forest include trees such as Teak, Maruthi, Karimaruthi, Rosewood, Venteak, Vengal, Chadachi, Mazhukanjiram, Bamboo etc.. The only south Indian coniferpodocarpus wallichianus grows in the region around the Periyar Reserve. Apart from the trees the states forests are also home to thousands species of flowering and non-flowering plants, orchids and medicinal plants.
Forest Products and Revenue : Forest plantations constitute the major source of raw material to the forest based industries. Teak is the major species planted, followed by mixed plantations and eucalypts. Major forest produce includes timber, bamboo, reeds and firewood.