Forests of Kanniyakumari

Forests are the heritage of the nation. These are assets and natural resources of the nation on which all forms of life depend and thrive. The forests in Kanniyakumari district are verdant and virgin and said to be 75 million years old. Of the total district area of 1,67,130 hectares, forests occupy an area of 50486 hectares which comes to about 30.2% of the total district geographic area, which is next to Nilgiri district with (59 %) and Dharmapuri District (38 %) in the State. The district is having 52 % of its forests as dense forests.


Kanniyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary

Kanniyakumari Wildlife sanctuary with adjacent areas of Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve and Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary of Kerala State constitutes the Southern most tip of westen ghats. The natural vegetation of this region represents biomes ranging from southern thorn forests, dry deciduous, moist deciduous, semi evergreen forests to ever green hill sholas with grassy downs. The tract is exceedingly rich in wildlife harbouring a variety of animals. The avifauna, the reptilian and amphibian fauna of this region are also rich and diverse.

In due recognition of the tremendous biological potential, kanniyakumari forest division was declared as Kanniyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary during 2002 vide G.O.Ms.No.152 dated:16.07.2002 with an extent of 45777.57 ha. Later in 2007 Kani tribal settlements, approach road to settlements and area leased out to Arasu Rubber Corporation were excluded from the sanctuary and vide G.O. (Ms) No.128 (E&F) dated20.11.2007 and an area of 40239.55 hectares was declared as Kanniyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary.

 Ecological significance:

The ecological significance of the Kanniyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary is of paramount importance.  The forests serve as a catchment area for 10 reservoirs namely Pechiparai, Perunchani, Chithar-1, Chithar-II, Upper Kodayar, Lower Kodayar, Kuthiyar, Chinna Kuthiyar, Mukkadal and Poigai Anai.   These reservoirs irrigate an area of about 50,000 ha and feed about 2,500 ponds and more than 500 Kms. lengths of channels.  The well-being of these water systems is closely related to the prosperity of the farmers of the district as the economy of the district depends on agriculture.  The rainwater due to precipitation in the reserve forest is collected by hundreds of the hill streams.  These streams drain into Kodayar, Paraliyar, Pazhayar and Valliyar.   Only if the reserve forests are protected well, the water resources can be maintained properly.

Faunal significance:

 Kanniyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary being a part of Western Ghats is rich in wildlife with atleast 30 types of mammals, about 100 species of birds including 14 species of migratory birds and many species of fishes, reptiles and amphibians. The presence of Tiger and Leopard though scanty lends credence to the richness of biodiversity of the tract.

Click here to view list of mammals (Size: 26KB)

Click here to view list of Birds (Size : 41KB)

Click here to view list of Endemic Birds of Western Ghats found in Kanniyakumari District (Size : 13KB)


Floral significance:

The vegetation and flora of Kanniyakumari sanctuary are exceptional because of extraordinary variety of species occurring within a small area. Kanniyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary is floristically one of the richest areas in our country harbouring not less than 3500 species of flowering plants. The IUCN has identified 11 plant species as critically endangered, 12 species as endangered, 21 species as vulnerable.   This indicates the fragile nature of the ecosystem.   However the floral diversity is one of uniqueness of the forest. 

Geomorphological Significance:

Kanniyakumari Forests though small in area has as many as 14 forest types as far Champion and Seth (1968) classification.


Type of Forests


1     1A/C3     

Southern Hill top tropical evergreen


Calophyllum elatum, Cullenia excelsa, Hydnocarpus species.

2     1A/C4  

West coast tropical evergreen Forests

Calophyllum elatum, Cullenia excelsa, Hydnocarpus species

3     2A/C2

West coast semi evergreen Forest 

Hopea parviflora, Mesua ferrea, Kingiodendron pinnatum

4   3B/C1 (b)

Moist Teak Forest

Tectona grandis,

 Pterocarpus marsupium

5   3B/C1(e)

Slightly Moist Teak Forests

Pterocarpus marsupium, Emblica officinalis,  Carreya arborea

6   3B/C2

Southern Moist mixed deciduous Forests 

Terminilia paniculata Albizzia odoratissima Dillenia pentagyna 

7  5A/C1 (b)

Dry Teak Forests 

Tectona grandis, Pterocarpus marsupium

8  5A/C3

Southern Dry mixed deciduous Forests

Anogeissous latifolia, Pterocarpus marsupium, Wrightia tinctoria 

9   5/DS2

Dry Savannah Forests

Mostly grasses like lemon grass

10  6A/C2

Carnatic Umbrella Thorn Forests

Acacia Planifrons, Zizyphus xylopyrus, Cimmiphora caudate

11  6A/C1

Southern thorn Forests

Zizyphus xylopyrus, Albizzia amara 

12  6A/DS1

Southern thorn scrub

Zizyphus xylopyrus, Albizzia amara

13  8A/C1

Southern sub tropical hill forests

Zyzypium arnottianum, Vitex wightiana, Actinodaphne hookeri

14  8A/E1

Ochlandra reed brakes

Ochlandra travancorica,  Ochlandra brandisii, Ohclandra rheedii.


 Eco Tourism

Kanniyakumari district is blessed with the benevolence of nature with the numerous rivers, mountains, streams, forests and seacoast. There is great scope for promoting eco-tourism in the district as it is richly endowed with pristine and diverse forests with rich variety of flora and fauna. The following are some places of ecotourism value.

Biodiversity Park at Udhayagiri Fort

            The Udhayagiri fort, with 22.50 hectares of area   has been under the control of the Forest Department for the past 15 years. It is maintained as a park for the public with the help of Joint forest management committee.  The Forest Department has in the past planted the area with species like teak, subabul, cassia neem etc and these trees have grown into a good forest. Due to the protection given by the forest department natural vegetation has also come up. Though it is not included in the sanctuary, it can be developed as centre of awareness and interpretation.

Maruthuva Malai 

The Maruthuva Malai also known as the Marunthu Vazhum Malai – the abode of medicinal herbs, forms part of the Western Ghats.  It is believed that the Maruthuva Malai is a fragment of the Sanjeevi Mountain which fell down here, while it was carried by Hanuman from Mahendragiri to Srilanka for healing the fatal wounds of Lakshmana. It stretches for more than a km, reaching a height of 800 feet at the highest point.  It is a place of religious and cultural importance.


 Suchindrum – Theroor Bird Conservation Reserve

            It is the second Conservation Reserve in Tamil Nadu. It constitutes a Network of ten ponds which are rich in birdlife. 90 Species of birds are reported from this conservation reserve. It is a place of immense tourism and educational values.    

The Tamil Nadu Preservation of Private Forest Act, 1949 (TNPPF ACT) is framed to prevent the indiscriminate destruction of private forests and interference with customary and prescriptive rights therein and for certain other purposes. It applies to private forests having a contiguous area exceeding forests for the purposes of this Act, by notification, in the District Gazette, but does not apply to reserved forests constituted under the Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882, and lands at the disposal of the Government as defined in that Act. A private forest exceeding 2 hectares in extent shall not cease to be such by reason only of the fact that, in a portion thereof trees, shrubs or reeds are felled or cut with or without the permission of the Committee or lands are cultivated, or rocks, roads, tanks, rivers or the like exist nor shall the area of such forest cease to be contiguous by reason only of the existence of all or any of the aforesaid circumstance.


A Committee for the purpose of this Act is constituted as follows:

(a) District Collector as Chairman of the Committee;

(b) District Forest Officer having jurisdiction over the district;

(c) Tahsildar having jurisdiction over the area;

(d) Executive Engineer of the Agriculture Department in charge of soil conservation;

(e) Personal Assistant (General) to the Collector of the district, who shall be the  

     Secretary of the Committee.


Details of Survey Field covered under the Notification   (Size : 23KB)


Details of Extent wise under the Notification (Size : 24KB)



Lands Covered under Private Forest Act  (Size : 371KB)


Page Last Updated On: 08 May, 2017 

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