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| Last Updated:: 05/09/2023



1. Introduction:

               Tamil Nadu is located in the southernmost part of the country.  It has an area of 130,058 kmwhich constitutes 3.96% geographical area of the country. It lies between 8◦05’ N- 13◦35’ N latitude and 76◦15’ - 80◦20’ E longtitude. Physiographically, the state can be dived into four major regions namely, Coastal Plains, Eastern Ghats, Central Plateau and Western Ghats.  The south-west monsoon feeds the Plateau and the retreating north-east monsoon brings rain to the east coast. The temperature in state ranges from 2C in the hills to 45C in other areas.  The average rainfall ranges from 925 mm to 1,170 mm.

 1.1 Forest Cover:

            The Forest cover in the state based on interpretation of satellite data, the forest cover in the state is 26,291 sq km which is 20.21% of the State’s geographical area.  In terms of forest canopy density classes, the state has 3,671 sq km under very dense forest, 10,979 sq km under moderately dense forest and 11,630 sq km under open forest.

 1.2 Tree Cover:

            The tree cover of the state has been estimated using trees outside forests (ToF) inventory data collected over a period of six years, i.e., 2017. The estimated tree cover in the state is 4,671 Sq km which is 3.59% of its geographical area.  

1.3 Recorded Forest Area:

           The recorded forest area is 22, 877 which constitutes 17.59% of the geographical area of the state.  Reserved Forests comprise 20,293, Protected Forests 1,782 and Unclassed Forests constitute 802  

2. Wild Biodiversity of Tamil Nadu:

              One sixth of landmass of Tamil Nadu is covered with forests. According to State of forest report 2013 by the Union Territories with reference to total forest cover. The recorded forest area of the state is 22,877 KM² constituting 17.59% of the geographic area. In Tamil Nadu, the moderately dense forest of 10199 KM² and 10697 KM² of open forest,  2948 KM² of very dense forest, and the total forest cover of the State is 23844 KM² constituting 130,058 of geographic. 

2.1 Floral diversity:

            The Angiosperm diversity of India includes 17,672 species. With  5640 species, Tamil Nadu ranks 1st among all the States in the  Country. This includes 533 endemic species, 230 red-listed species, 1559 species of medicinal plants and 260 species of wild relatives of cultivated plant. The Gymnosperm diversity of the country is 64 species of which Tamil Nadu have 4 species of indigenous Gymnosperms and about 60 introduced species. The   Pteridophytes diversity of India includes 1022 species of which Tamil Nadu has about 184 species. Tamil Nadu wild plant diversity also includes a vast number of Bryophytes, Likens, Fungi, Algae and Bacteria. 

2.2. Faunal Diversity: pls check nos

               The faunal diversity of Tamil Nadu includes 165 species of fresh  water Pisces, 76 species of Amphibians, 177 species of reptiles,  454 species of birds  and  187 species of mammals. According to  the Conservation Assessment and Management  Plan (CAMP) reports the red-listed species include 126 species of  Pisces, 56 species  of Amphibians, 77 species of reptiles, 32  species of birds and 40 species of mammals. The endemic fauna includes 36 species of Amphibians, 63 species of reptiles, 17 species of birds and 24 species of mammals, 42 species of birds and 9 species of reptiles. 

3. Protected Areas pls check nos

Tamil Nadu ranks 14th among all the States and Union Territories of India in terms of protected area. There are 12 wildlife sanctuaries and 12 bird sanctuaries, 5 National Parks, 4 Tiger Reserves, 4 Elephant Reserves and 3 Biosphere Reserves for in situ conservation of wild fauna and flora. 

 3.1. Biosphere Reserve in Tamil Nadu: pls check nos 

 A) Gulf of Mannar Biosphere 

    The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve known for its 21 coral rich islands along with coast line from Rameswaram to Thoothukudi was declared as Marine National Park in 1986 by the Government of Tamil Nadu and later in 1989 Government of India declared it as the first Marine Biosphere Reserve of India. With its rich biodiversity of about 4223 species of various flora and fauna, the Reserve is prominent for its coral reefs, sea grass and mangroves. The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve supports several critically endangered species such as Dugong dugong (sea cow), sharks including whale shark, sea horses, green sea turtles, dolphins, sea cucumbers. The Government of India sanctions funds for this Reserve under two separate schemes viz. Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve and Conservation and Management of coral reefs. 

B) Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve pls check nos

     The Reserve encompasses 5,520 in the 3 southern States of which Tamil Nadu portion is 2537.6 It forms an almost 48 complete ring around the Nilgiri Plateau. The Tamil Nadu Part covers parts of The Nilgiris, Erode and Coimbatore Districts. This area is very rich in Flora and Fauna.

 The following is the important aspects of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve: pls check nos 

  • The Nilgiris Biosphere Reserves comprises of substantial un-spoilt areas of Natural vegetation ranging from dry scrub to evergreen forests and swamps thus contributing to highest bio-diversity.

  • The altitude ranging from 250 m in the Coimbatore and Calicut plains to 2500 m. in the upper Nilgiris and corresponding climatic gradients support and nourish the different vegetation types.

  • The Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve is very rich in plant diversity. About 3300 species, 1232 are endemic to the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve.

  • The genus Baeolepis is exclusively endemic to the Nilgiris. Some of the plants entirely restricted to the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve include species of Adenoon, Calacanthus, Baeolepis, Frerea, Jarodina, Wagotea, Poeciloneuron, etc. Of the 175 species of archids found here, 8 are endemic to the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve.

  • These include endemic and endangered species of Vanda, Liparis, Bulbophyllum, Spiranthes and Thrixspermum. The sholas of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve area treasure house of rare plant species.

  • The fauna of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve includes over 100 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, 80 species of reptiles; about 39 species of fish, 31 amphibians, 60 species of reptiles, 300 species of butterflies and innumerable invertebrates are endemic to the Western Ghats.

C) Agasthiyarmalai Biosphere Reserve pls check nos

         The total area of the Bio-sphere reserve is 3500.36 out of which 1828 is in Kerala and 1672.36 in Tamil Nadu. The Bio-sphere Reserve covers parts of Tirunelveli and Kanniyakumari districts in Tamil Nadu.


a.    Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats:

     Government of India has sanctioned funds for 30 schemes for the developmental activities in National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Conservation reserves. 

b.    Project Tiger:

   Tiger being the top carnivore, the importance of its conservation lies in the fact that the presence of this predator is an indicator of the overall health of an ecosystem. Various measures to conserve Tigers and their habitats have been taken up by the Forest Department in the four Tiger Reserves viz., Kalakad- Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tirunelveli district, Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Nilgiris district and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Erode district. The scheme provides assistance for works relating to habitat conservation and protection including fire prevention, eco-development, improvement of water sources, tourism development, mitigating human wildlife conflicts and improvement of infrastructure facilities in the Tiger Reserves.

 c.    Project Elephant:

      Tamil Nadu is one among the leading States implementing Project Elephant, pursuing scientific management and habitat conservation. Project Elephant scheme is implemented in four Elephant Reserves. 

d.    Conservation and Management of Mangroves :

            Mangroves are plants that survive high salinity, tidal regimes, strong wind velocity, high temperature and muddy anaerobic soil – a combination of conditions hostile for other plants. Mangrove ecosystem constitutes a bridge between terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Mangrove functions as breeding, feeding, nursery grounds for most of the sport and commercial fishes found in the deep coastal waters and inshore waters. They also provide breeding ground for birds, reptiles and mammals. The mangroves such as Muthupet, Pitchavaram and Ramanathapuram are under the control of Forest Department. Habitat improvement measures like mangrove restoration in degraded lands, maintenance of older plantation, removal of invasive species, protection and vigilance, eco development activities, awareness creation, monitoring and evaluation etc. are the major activities.

e.    Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants:

            Tamil Nadu is the home for Siddha system of medicine, one of the important branches of Indian system of medicine which focuses on the use of medicinal plants for treating various ailments. The traditional knowledge of medicinal plants has mostly diminished in the present generation. Medicinal plants are an integral part of the Indian heritage. Medicinal Plant resources are dwindling and threatening both, health care practices and livelihoods of the local communities. Taking stock of the situation, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department has taken steps to implement schemes for conservation, development and sustainable management of medicinal plants. The scheme of Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants is being implemented through Forest Department with the assistance from National Medicinal Plants Board, New Delhi. 


Tamil Nadu Forest Department and FSI-2017

 2017-18 POLICY NOTE