- Silviculture and Productivity Improvement:
Most people believed that forest is the major source of wood for domestic
life. Through a series of field surveys KFRI has brought to light that over
75 percent of the wood requirement of the State is of non-forestry origin.
Disproving the prevalent notion was of great significance in the context
of planning and implementation of forestry practices.
- Three decades of studies on teak:
the most important of tree crops, brought rewards. KFRI identified c.
200 plus trees and subsequently succeeded in evolving a technology for its
clonal multiplication. Clones of 30 of the most promising plus trees have
been produced and plantation trials of a selected few are now underway.
Early observations have shown the superiority of the clones. Elite clones
for improving the productivity of eucalypts have also been developed at
- Forest Seed on Demand:
Any future crop is an expression of past productivity and half of this
is ensured if the right seed is selected. Thus KFRI joined hands with the
Kerala Forest Department and established the Kerala Forest Seed Centre (KFSC),
which procures, processes and supplies quality seeds of teak and other plantation
- Cost effective bio-control of teak pest:
The teak defoliator, an aggressive insect pest, costs a cumulative loss
of up to 40 percent wood production for teak. It is remarkable that a team
of scientists from KFRI developed an eco-friendly microbial bio-pesticide
that does not pose any chemical hazards. We also take pride in being looked
up on as a reliable agency where expert opinion in matters of forest crop
health can be sought. The unique Tree Help Line where our scientists help
the public is an entrepreneurial establishment for this.
- Controlling soil erosion and site degradation in forest plantations:
Taungya, which caused considerable erosion of the fertile top soil was
the conventional system of plantation development for teak. The system was
abandoned following a study by KFRI which showed that the soil loss was
considerable. Similarly, until 1982 selective/clear felling was the exploitative
strategy on the natural forests in the State. Apparently, our study on the
impact of selective logging and the ecological cost-benefit analysis led
to official cessation of the practice.
- Promoting Bamboo Resources and Livelihood of Traditional Communities:
Bamboo and rattan having tremendous importance to the livelihood of traditional
communities was a neglected resource. By taking up an array of research
projects exploring into the biology, propagation, extraction, preservation,
utilization, economics and value addition of bamboo products, KFRI has been
able to help the communities for improving their livelihood. KFRI is now
in the forefront of research and training on bamboos earning recognition
by INBAR and National Bamboo Mission. Our regular training programmes for
forest officials, cultivators and traditional bamboo dependent communities
are well recognized nationally.
- Eco-Restoration and Ecosystem Rehabilitation:
Starting from the establishment of greenbelt around Cochin Refineries,
through the establishment of bio-shield along a 32 km long tsunami affected
coastline at Vatanappally, phyto-remediation of pollution at Nitta Gelatin
Factory (Kadikulam) using bamboo belts, afforestation of Ayyampilly Hills
and river bank stabilization at Karassery Panchayath, KFRI exposed the immense
potential of green solutions for habitat restoration.
- Voicing for Conservation:
At a time when forests were seen largely as a source of water for irrigation
and energy, the Save Silent Valley Movement was a turning point in environmental
awareness. KFRI has played a key role in saving the pristine forests of
Silent Valley from the onslaught for a hydroelectric dam. Thanks to the
involvement, this chunk of forests later became a national park and one
of the core areas of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve; today, it is also a
nominee for a World Heritage Site. One of the earliest environmental impact
assessment studies on the multi-purpose river valley projects was instrumental
- Biodiversity Documentation and Wilderness Conservation:
Situated right within the hill folds of the W Ghats, KFRI is now a valuable
repository of information on the rich biodiversity of the region. In concerns
of conservation and natural resource management of the region, the presence
of KFRI is quite prominent. Monographs on individual ecosystems of the State
such as Sholas, Grasslands, Wetlands, Myristica swamps and Moist deciduous
forests by the scientists of the Institute are important baseline documents.
With its robust scientific manpower supported with facilities for exploring
even the most remote locations, KFRI has been instrumental for the study
of the biodiversity of most of the protected areas of the State. Floras
and wildlife manuals of the sanctuaries and national parks of the State
were largely brought out by KFRI. Vegetation maps and analysis of the forest
stands were also accomplished. This information is being utilized for the
management of the protected areas by the Forest Department. KFRI also provides
the technical support for analysis of the data from State-wide Wildlife
Census conducted periodically.
- Expert systems for taxonomic identification of flora of Kerala:
KFRI is the first to bring out a comprehensive monograph of the Flora
of Kerala. The Handbook to the Trees of Kerala, a computer aided software
for tree identification and its image bank form an unparalleled information
source on the floral wealth. Identifying conservation of the rare species
as a top priority KFRI undertook a series of species recovery programmes.
The Institute’s efforts on survey, documentation and conservation of the
rare, endangered and threatened plants of the State, particularly trees,
has gained high appreciation. Since its establishment, KFRI has documented
nearly 70 species new to science.
- Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan:
KFRI functioned as the Technical Cell of the State Biodiversity Board
(KSBB) initially and the Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (SBSAP) for
Kerala also evolved there. It is a matter of pride that the KSBB has been
chaired by retired Scientists of KFRI. As a part of the documentation of
biodiversity, Checklists of Algae, Fungi, Lichens, Bryophytes, Pteridophytes,
Flowering Plants, Insects, Freshwater Fishes, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds
and Mammals for the State have been brought out.
- Environmental Education:
In a State like Kerala rich in biodiversity, the dense human population
is an equal but opposing force. Nature conservation in such a ‘humanscape’
is possible only by a transformation in the mental plane of the people progressing
sequentially through environmental awareness, realization of value and fostering
commitment to conservation. The Bioresources Nature Trail established in
its 40 ha area of the KFRI Subcentre was a mega initiative towards this.
This live botanical museum provides round the year exposure to the public
on native biodiversity and its ecological importance. It also provides an
opportunity to see, acquaint and learn about the State’s native plants in
one place and is made use of by a large number of visitors every day.
- Germplasm bank:
The main campus of the Institute at Peechi, the Subcentre at Nilambur
and the Field Research Station at Velupadam collectively form another large
germplasm bank of several groups of useful plants such as bamboos, reeds,
canes, palms, medicinal plants, orchids, elite clones of teak, etc. A rich
herbarium of plants of Kerala, an insectorium, a culture bank of fungi and
a wildlife museum are satellite repositories attached to it.
- Ecology of Invasives:
The fact that some of the exotics can turn out really problematic was
a later realization in the history of plant and animal introductions. KFRI
was the first to organize national seminars on the Western Ghats and the
problem of the exotics and to communicate the implications to both forest
managers and the public. Thanks to the initiative, eucalypts which deplete
the water table is no more a preferred species in Kerala.
- Reaching the People through extension and training:
Conventional public R&D Centres are conservative in the sense that
products and information of applied value alone find their way to the public.
Potential end-users outside the government set up usually fail to receive
the products easily. Recognizing this, KFRI initiated a Training and Extension
Division in 2003, exclusively devoted to outreach and the performance of
the Centre has acclaimed appreciation from throughout the country. Forest
Department staff, mid-level managers and the public get benefited out of
the regular training programmes conducted.
- Network hub:
KFRI hosts two transcontinental networks at Peechi Campus. The first,
the TEAKNET, is a network of researchers, traders and stakeholders of the
teak sector, and the second, the Asia Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network
(APFISN), monitors and reports alien invasive species movements that impact
local biodiversity in the Asia Pacific region. Both the networks are supported
by the FAO.
- At the Service of State:
The expertise of KFRI is also being utilized by various courts of law
in the country in the context of wildlife offences such as poaching, timber
jugglery, and most importantly by the Forest Department in evaluating potentially
ecologically fragile land.
- Contribution to Science:
The work of 56 scientists of KFRI and a large number of research/ project
fellows who assisted them served science and society, as an institution
dedicated to forestry (Please see Appendix 2). In this process the Institute
organized itself into a congregation of expertise, knowledge, facilities,
and establishments. Part of the information generated by them have appeared
in the form of 380 Research Reports, 75 Doctoral Dissertations, 75 Books,
30 Information Bulletins, 10 Softwares/ CDs and 1400 Papers in scientific
- Influencing Policy:
Among the 600 research programmes completed by the Institute, a majority
were informed by national and international policies on forestry and conservation.
Another category of projects prospectively informed policies by influencing
the policy making process. One such instance is a study on the impacts of
selection felling and assessment of regeneration status in logged forest
areas. The findings of the study played significant role in minimising felling
in natural forests. Similarly, studies at KFRI on the taungya system of
plantation raising and the consequent site quality degradation lead to policy
decision for discontinuing taungya system. Apart from these KFRI has carried
out EIA of several development projects including, multipurpose river valley
projects, rail and road communication projects etc. Through these exercises
the Institute could actively intervene in the policy intervention and environmental
As members of the government
committees, decision making bodies and team for preparation of management plans
and conservation plans for PAs and territorial forest divisions, KFRI scientists
are able to intervene in the policy process directly. Policy process in the
Participatory Forest Management (PFM) and sustained extraction of NTFPs also
necessitate specific research inputs and proactive involvement for institutional
reorganisation of PFM. A more organised and proactive policy research programme
needs to be developed at the institute. Such a programme should have significant
role to play not only in monitoring and modifying the policy implementation but
also in identifying grey areas in the state forestry and forestry policy and
initiating policy making process through facilitated discussions. This kind of
proactive involvement in the policy process would mean strengthening KFRI to
function as a think tank in forest and natural resource policy.