top of page
Malabar Manual Vol 2
William Logan

By Rhodes Morgan, Esq., District Forest Officer.

General Description.—The whole of the Wynad plateau must have been covered at no very remote period with dense forest, the greater portion of which, more especially in the centre of the taluk, has been swept away by the system of cultivation known as "Tuckle" or punam in Malabar, leaving a fringe of deciduous teak forest all along the eastern frontier, from whence it extends into the province of Mysore. On the north and west, the steep declivities of the Western Ghats, covered with a primeval growth of evergreen forest also escaped destruction.

The deciduous forests occupy a zone extending from 11° 58' Lat. on the north to 11° 35' Lat. on the south, and between 75° 59' and 76° 33' East Long. The evergreen forests clothe the slopes of the Western Grhats on the west, and of the Dindimal and Bramagiri ranges on the north. These ranges run out at right angles to the Western Ghats and form buttresses of that great chain of mountains.

The deciduous forests contain the most valuable timber trees, such as teak, rosewood, iynee (Artocarpus hirsuta), venghay (Pterocarpus marsupium), ven-teak (Lagerstraemia microcarpa) and a host of others, and produce many valuable articles of commerce, of which wax, honey, resin, turmeric, zedoary and myrabolans are the principal.

They are more or less open, and there is little undergrowth, except in one or two tracts where fire has been artificially excluded . Thousands of acres are covered with a growth of coarse grass from 4' to 8' high. Where the soil is richer, and the growth of trees denser, there is an undergrowth of low scrub, consisting of Lea-Helicteres, curcuma, etc. Many trees grow to a great size, yielding as much as 300 cubic feet of timber occasionally ; but the average contents of the trees are about 40 cubic feet.

In the evergreen forests, the trees are lofty, and the growth very dense. There is little or no undergrowth, except in patches, where a dwarf Pandanus is common. These forests have a gloomy aspect, and the sun rarely penetrates them except where some tree has fallen from old age, or has been up-rooted by some storm.

The most valuable trees are the red and white cedars, the wild jack, the poonspar, and the ironwood. Cardamoms are the principal product ; they are extensively cultivated, and also grow spontaneously. Bees’ wax, dammer, rattans and pepper are the only other products much collected at present, though resins, kino, gamboge, etc., abound, but have no market value.

Past History.—When Wynad was taken from Tippu Sultan by the British, the Palassi (Pychy) Raja, a petty chieftain in possession, rebelled against the British, was conquered and shot. His forests and other possessions were then escheated. For years no real effect was given to the order of escheat, and many forests were usurped possession of by various persons.

In the year 1859, a Forest Department was formed and an officer, Mr. Hunter, sent down to work the Wynad. At that period, the Collector administered the forests and sold timber, on what is known as the stump-fee system, i.e., any person paying a certain sum per tree was allowed to cut it down and remove it. In the case of teak, this stump-fee was Re. 1 per tree.

The forests were worked on the native system for many years, no efforts were made to improve them, and trees were indiscriminately felled where found, whatever their age might be. In 1878, all felling of living teak was stopped, and the Forest Department turned its attention to the utilisation of the wind-fallen and dead trees which were being annually destroyed by fire. In 1882, the Forest Act was introduced, and immense progress has been made in the scientific treatment of the forests.

Present Condition of Forests—The deciduous forests have been divided into 14 blocks, of which six are reserved forests, two are under reservation, and six blocks are reserved lands.

The evergreen forests have been divided into three blocks ; all at present are under reservation. The annexed statement gives particulars of all these blocks, and their areas.

Of the reserved forests, three—Begur, Kurchiyat, and Rampur—have been demarcated with posts and cairns, and two others will be demarcated before this year has ended.

They are all under special fire protection under rule 8 of the rules under section 26 of the Forest Act ; but only one (Begur, area 15,366 acres) is fire-traced, and systematically patrolled in the fire season. Gradually complete protection will be extended to all the others.

The Begur Forest has been divided into 8 compartments, and a working scheme will be prepared for it shortly. At present, as already stated, only dead wood is being removed.

All the forests have been roaded, and about 80 miles of such roads exist at present ; but these roads are all more or less primitive.

The timber in the forests is squared, with much skill, by aboriginal tribes, on contract. They are paid three-fourths of an anna per cubic toot ; when felled, the logs are hauled by elephants into depots, and are from thence carted to the banks of the Kabbani river and floated to Mysore. In the dry weather, logs are carted the whole way to Mysore ; but such transport is so costly as to be almost prohibitive. There are eight elephants and ten buffaloes altogether maintained for the haulage of timber in the forests.

Numerous buildings have been erected, and still more will shortly be erected for the establishment employed to work the forests, which consists of —

The members of the establishment are constantly being changed, owing to the excessive malariousness of the forests in the dry weather, which wrecks the very strongest constitutions in a few months.


List of Reserved Forests and Reserved Lands with their areas, etc., in Wynad

List of Reserved Forests and Reserved Lands with their areas, etc., in Wynad. (Continued)

District: Malabar. Taluk: Wynad

Commentary                MMVol 1               MMVol 2

bottom of page