Nilambur taluk lies within the Malappuram district of Kerala state and comprises two forest divisions, namely Nilambur North and South. The taluk borders the Gudalur and Wynaad South forest divisions in the north, plain regions in the south and the Mukurthi national park in the east. The Nilambur region is considered a biodiversity hotspot and accorded a great degree of protection by the forest department. The New Amarambalam Reserve Forests lying within Nilambur division forms a part of the core zone of the NBR. Nilambur is intimately linked to the great forests as it is said to mean a place of Nilimba which means bamboo in Sanskrit. The lives of the people revolve around the forests for social, cultural and economic purposes. Nilambur is also home to the oldest teak plantations in the country.
Nilambur North Division
The forests are situated within 11o 10’ and 11o 30’ north latitude and 75o 55’ and 76o 35’ longitude East of Greenwich. In the East, of the division the New Amarambalam, Karumpoya and Nellicutta reserves form one large compact area 67,632 acres in extent and covering the greater part of the outer slopes of the Kundah Range of hills, the western escarpment of the Nilgiri plateau and a stretch of plains at their foot. The remaining forests are scattered along the banks of the Karampuxzha and its tributaries, the individual reserves, or blocks in the case of leased forests varying in extent from 1 to 2,800 acres.
Distribution of area Nilambur north Division consists of Nilambur, Vazhikkadavu and Edavanna Ranges. These forests were mostly vested forests earlier. Vegetation consists of deciduous and evergreen forests. This division shares its boundary with Karanataka in the East and Arabian Sea is in the western side. To the south there is Nilambur south Division and to the north there is Calicut and Wayanad south Division. Edavanna Range: Edavanna Range is situated in the Western part of Nilambur north. In the east Kalikavu and Karulai Ranges of the Nilambur south Division borders it and Arabian Sea is in the western side. Kalikavu Range of the Nilambur south Division borders it in the south also while Thamarassery Range of Calicut Division in the north. Nilambur Range: It is situated in the northeastern part of the division. To the east there is Vazhikkadavu Range and Thamarassery Range of Calicut Division in the West. Edavanna Range borders it in the south and Meppady Range of Wyanad south in the north. Vazhikkadavu Range: This range is situated to the Eastern part of this division. In the east the Karulai Range of Nilambur south Division bound it. Nilambur Range borders it in the west and Edavanna Range in the south. Tamil Nadu borders it in the north.
Status of forest in Nilambur North Division Sl.No Range Total forest area (Km2 )
1 Nilambur 140.87
2 Edavanna 97.90
3 Vazhikadavu 155.19
Plains and Hills
The outstanding topographical feature of the country is its sharp division into plains and hills. The plains of south Malabar except for a belt of practically level ground varying width along the sea board are characteristically undulating. The higher ground rises generally to not more than about 300 feet above mean sea level. Although in exceptional cases it goes up to as much as 1,500 feet. The hills on the other hand are strikingly precipitous. Even the low slopes are steep becoming more and more precipitous with increasing elevation. The hill forests vary in elevation from about 250 feet to 8,200 feet above the mean sea level the area above 6000 feet being almost their precipice. Rivers and Streams The whole area is traversed by a network of rivers and streams. The main rivers Chaliar puzha runs more or less north east to south west. It has three main head water streams, the Chaliarpuzha, the Karum puzha and the Punna puzha. The first rises in the south west of the Wyanad plateau while the sources of the latter are in the Kundah hills. The two latter meet on the edge of the teak plantations in the south of the Valluvasseri block and within two miles of their confluence they join the Chaliar Puzha at Chaliarmukku in the north west corner of the same block.
The fall of these rivers even neat the foot of the hills is surprisingly small. The elevation of the river bed at the confluence at Chaliarmukku is only 30 feet above mean sea level and this point is as much as 32 miles as the crow flies from the mouth of the river. Again the elevation of the riverbeds of the Karumpuzha and Punnapuzha at the foot of the hills Kanhirakadavu and Moochikal respectively is only about 235 feet. Above these points rivers and streams are torrents.
Geology, Rock and Soil
The underlying rock is Archaen. On the Ghats and to some extent on the plains the rock is gneiss of a granite nature. On the foot hills and over the greater part of the plains the gneiss foliated to a much greater degree. It is probably part of a lower stratum than that found on the surface of the ghats. The foliated gneiss is formed into laterite, probably by the action of microorganisms. The distribution of the underlying gneiss is often lost over large areas. Throughout the area intrusive veins of quartz are to be seen. In the laterite areas particularly the quartz veins having broken down quartz boulders and rocks of all sizes are found scattered over the surface. Soils: By disintegration the granite gneiss forms a very fine loam of varying depth. This varies mainly according to the position and slope, shallow and stony on the ridges, deep and fine in the valleys. The laterite is found in varying degrees of disintegration from a hard rock to fine gravel. Alluvial deposits: The gneiss or the laterite is along the rivers and streams overlaid by river alluvium generally to a great depth as much as 70 feet in many places. This alluvium is a fine sandy loam, rich in organic matter and minute particles of mica. It generally contains a large number of water worn pebbles and boulders of quartz and gneiss. The river alluvium is overlaid near hillocks in the plains by laterite alluvium.
The northeastern part of this division is steep with a highest value of 1800m and a lowest value of 50m. The highest value is the Nilambur Range and some in the Vazhikkadavu Range and Edavanna Range. The western part is almost plain and the maximum value is only 100m. The western side is plain.
Nilgiris South Division