The Kerala Forest Research Institute Sub Centre (KFRI Sub Centre) is situated in the fringe area of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and is about 5 km away from the Nilambur town. With a campus of around 43.36 ha, the KFRI Sub Centre is one of the important Green Institutions in Malappuram District with a rich floral and faunal diversity. Situated in Kozhikkode-Gudalur road and on the bank of Karimpuzha, a tributary of Chaliyar River, the campus is quite clean, green and free from pollution. The campus does claim to have maintained and increased its green cover than what it had before the establishment of the Sub Centre in 1978.
The campus is rich in plant diversity with a total of 1643 taxa of angiosperm plants belonging to 840 genera and 152 families. Among these, 1452 taxa represented species (sub species and natural varieties included) while the remaining 191 taxa represented cultivars and hybrids. It may also be noted that the types of existing plant species are dependent upon the local geology, naturally-occurring or introduced soils, water availability, and the amount of human intervention. Thus a range of landscapes from carefully tended areas to areas that have reverted to nature under the influence of the forces that control ecological succession can be seen within the campus.
The campus is regarded as haven for birds and butterflies. Around 101 species birds including resident birds such as Chestnut Headed Bee Eater, Plum Headed Parakeet, Redspur Fowl, Spotted Dove and migratory birds such as Indian Red Rumped Swallow, Indian Pitta. Asian Paradise Flycatcher and Eurasian Golden Oriole can be frequently seen in the Campus.
Like in many other parts of the tropical region, the current thrust in forestry in Kerala is the development of framework for mobilization of the local communities to achieve optimum utilization of customary and other public lands in order to secure sustained production of food and fuel- wood while conserving the natural forests. Thus, several programmes are launched to promote farm forestry and agroforestry. The success of such programmes however, largely depends on proper selection, establishment, management and utilization of trees for provision of required products and is benefits and services. In recognition of the paucity of information pertaining to suitable species for forestry plantations, social forestry, farm forestry and agroforestry programmes in the State, as early as in 1980, the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) has initiated in its Sub Centre a species trial project. The over-all objective of the project was to analyse growth and yield patterns of a set of both native and exotic tree species growing in a same locality. Thus, in the Sub Centre Campus one can see spices trail plots of Ailanthus triphysa, Acacia mangium, Casuarina equisetifolia, Swietenia macrophylla, Pterocarpus marsupium, Pterocarpus marsupium, Pterocarpus santalinus, Artocarpus hirsutus, Adenanthera pavonina, Santalum album, Chukrasia tabularis, Hopea parviflora, Toona ciliata, Eucalyptus brasiana, Eucalyptus cloezinna, Eucalyptus deglupta, Eucalyptus pallita, Eucalyptus camaldulansis, Eucalyptus saligna, Eucalyptus teritcornis and Eucalyptus urohylla. This range of species growing in the Sub Centre campus helps to evaluate and compare growth and yield of individuals growing in one single area.
Another attraction to students, foresters and researchers is the bambusetum of the KFRI Sub Centre. In this bamboo gene bank conservation area over 50 species of bamboo including Bambusa balcooa, Bambusa bambos, Bambusa glaucescens, Bambusa polymorpha, Bambusa vulgaris, Bambusa verigata, Bambusa wamin, Dendrocalamus asper, Dendrocalamus brandisii, Dendrocalamus giganteus, Dendrocalamus longispathus, Dendrocalamus sikkimensis, Dendrocalamus strictus, Gigantochloa atroviolacea, Melocanna baccifera, Ochlandra scriptoria, Ochlandra travancorica, Pseudoxytenanthera stocksii, Schizostachyum dullooa, Thyrsostachys oliveri, Thyrsostachys siamensis and Schizostachyum beddomei are growing.
Being a part of the Western Ghats, one of the hot spots in the world, Kerala has about 1,661 endemic angiosperm species. Of these, 496 species come under rare, endangered and threatened (RET) species categories, occurring in isolated populations. Among these 496 species, 151 are tree species. In the KFRI Sub Centre, an ex-situ conservation area for RET tree species has been developed. In the RET area, over 74 species are planted in blocks. Visit to this RET species conservation area will be of great value to understand ecological and silvicultural aspects of these species.
One of the mandates of Kerala Forest Research is the dissemination of knowledge and information on forest related matters to end-users, farmer, general public and transfer of technology to stakeholders for social benefits. For fulfilling this mandate, the KFRI Sub Centre is equipped with necessary infrastructure and is carrying out several events and programmes. A well- furnished Guest House and two dormitories will offer comfortable stay to the students and trainees. Based on the request and specific interest of the students and trainees, apart from demonstrations and hands-on activities in the field, classes, seminars and training workshop on conservation management and sustainable utilization of natural resources are organized in the Sub Centre.
Research Activities in the KFRI Sub Centre are organized under following themes:
The results of KFRI Sub Centre's research are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and also transferred to relevant government agencies involved in overseeing and managing forest and agroforestry resources.Scientists: Dr. UM Chandrasekhara (Scientist-E2, Forest Ecology ) and Smt. Sani Lookose(Scientist-C, Museology).