About us » Milestones


  • 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 KFRI.
  • 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 species.
  • 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 in this.
  • 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 journals
  • 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 management.
The above list is expandable

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.