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Malabar Manual Vol 2
William Logan

By Rhodes Morgan, District Forest Officer.

There are four tracts of forests which have been under the management of the Forest Department in the Palghat Range since 1883. The most important of these is the Chenat Nayar forest, which escheated in the early years of the century to Government. The area of this forest is 15,206 acres, of, which 12,263 acres are forest, and the balance, 2,962 acres, grass land and sheet-rock. These forests are situated in a rooky range of hills connected with the Western Ghats, which rise to a height of 5,000 feet (Elival peak). On the lower slopes, i.e., up to 1,000 feet elevation, the forests are deciduous, above that, evergreen. The principal trees in the lower zone of deciduous forest are teak (almost exterminated), rosewood, venghay, venteak, irul, etc. The evergreen forests (contain white and red cedar, iynee, poonspar, ironwood, etc.

The lower slopes are very malarious, but the open grass lands higher up are above fever range.

There is a forest rest-house on Karimala, at an elevation of about 4.000 feet and another, at the base, near Dhoni. The forests are worked on the "Jardinage" or selection-felling system, the only one feasible in a forest where any felling "of blocks might result in various landslips, and would end in the ruin of the forest. There is very little soil on these hills , which are composed of solid gneiss.

A small quantity of timber is now removed annually, not exceeding 15,000 cubic feet, the forest having been very recklessly worked in former years, and the more valuable trees almost exterminated. This forest has been surveyed and demarcated with cairns of stones, and posts.

The second forest is situated at Walayar on the line of rail. The area of this forest is 3,017 acres, of which 2,600 acres is productive, the rest being barren rock. The forest has been divided into two blocks and ten compartments, and each compartment further sub-divided into sub-compartments. It is worked for fuel for the supply of the railway, and teak poles.

The ‘‘coupes" are worked on a rotation of ten years, the produce being sold to contractors. A working scheme of this forest has been prepared. It is fenced in, and fire protected annually, and cattle are rigidly excluded. There is a special forest pound for stray cattle.

The remaining two forests are situated in the Walluvanad taluk. They are known as the Panakadan forest in the Tiruvalam desam and the Silent valley. The first of these is situated on a small rocky hill of about 1,000 acres in extent. The trees in it are deciduous and the growth average, the villagers in the neighbourhood having been in the habit of pollarding the trees for manure for their paddy. In 1883, this was put a stop to and a forest guard appointed to look after this forest, which is very isolated. These are a few small hills in the neighbourhood and a considerable tract on the slopes of the ghats, the ownership of which has not been determined yet.

Panakadan hill is Reserved Land, and is under special fire protection. It is intended shortly to notify it as a reserved forest.

The Silent Valley is an enormous tract of mountain forest and grass land situated on the western slopes of the Khoondahs, and is most inaccessible. It is roughly supposed to cover an area of over 70 square miles. The forest on it is all evergreen, and the principal trees the same as those usually found in such forests in Malabar, viz, poonspar, iynee, ironwood, red and white cedar, wild jack, etc. These forests yield cardamoms, dammer, rattans, etc. The timber is not worked on account of the inaccessible nature of the locality. This forest will shortly be notified for reservation.

Commentary                MMVol 1               MMVol 2

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