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Welcome to world's first website on Flora of Western Ghats.

Among the 25 hot spots of the world, two are found in India extending into neighboring countries - the Western Ghats/Sri Lanka and the Indo-Burma region (covering the Eastern Himalayas). The Western Ghats are a chain of highlands running along the western edge of the Indian subcontinent, from Bombay south to the southern tip of the peninsula, through the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Covering an estimated area of 159,000 sq. km, the Western Ghats is an area of exceptional biological diversity and conservation interest, and is "one of the major Tropical Evergreen Forest regions in India" (Rodgers and Panwar, 1988). As the zone has already lost a large part of its original forest cover, it must rank as a region of great conservation concern. The small remaining extent of natural forest, coupled with exceptional biological richness and ever increasing levels of threat (agriculture, reservoir flooding plantations, logging and over exploitation), are factors which necessitate major conservation inputs.

Indian subcontinent as a rich biological diversity in the world owing to its vast geographic area, varied topography and climate, and diverse biogeographical regions.

Because of its richness in overall species diversity India is recognised as one of the 12 megadiversity regions ofthe world. A very small number of countries, mainly in the tropics, possess a large fraction of world.species diversity and those countries which posses the greatest species richness are recognised as megadiversity countries which attract special international attention. Of about 1.7 million species globally described and recorded in scientific literature, India has about 1,26,200 species (Khoshoo, 1995).It ranks tenth in the world both in respect of richness of flowering plants (17,000spp.)and mammals (372 spp.)Of India's 49,219 plant species, 1600 endemics (40% of the total number of endemics) are found in a 17,000 km2 strip of forest along the seaward side of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala (WCMC. 1992). Forest tracts up to 500 metres in elevation, comprising one-fifth of the entire forest expanse, are mostly evergreen, while those in the 5001500 metres range are semi-evergreen. There are two main centres of diversity, the Agastyamalai Hills and the Silent Valley/New Amambalam Reserve basin (Myers. 1988).

There are currently seven national parks in the Western Ghats with a total area of 2,073 sq. km (equivalent to 1.3% of the region) and 39 wildlife sanctuaries covering an area of about 13,862 sq. km (8.1%). The management status of the wildlife sanctuaries in this part of India varies enormously. Almost one-third of all the flowering plant species in India are found in this region. Of the 450-odd plants found in this region, 40% are endemic (these are species that have adapted to this particular area and the conditions existing in it.) There is an equal diversity of animal and bird life. There is only one biosphere reserve in the Western Ghats, the Nilgiri biosphere reserve,which helps in conserving endemic and endangered species. A few of the indigenous and exotic tree and plant species in the Western Ghats are the teak, jamun, cashew, hog plum, coral tree, jasmine, and crossandra. During the past 40 to 50 years the plant and animal life has as a whole suffered due to so-called development and urbanization, which has led to the extinction of many species and more are in danger of becoming extinct

To know more detail about different regions and forest types of western ghats, click below on regions of your choice.

North Western Ghats moist deciduous forests

North Western Ghats montane rain forests

South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests

South Western Ghats montane rain forests

View images of Western Ghats region in the Indian subcontinent

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