Most of the features that are commonly attributed to typical tropical rain-forests, such as a preponderance of woody vegetation and species with leaves in the mesophyll size-class, tall slender trees with ‘flying buttress’ and unusually thin bark, multilayering of vegetation with abundance of epiphytes and stranglers, evergreenness, strong tendency to change in species composition in time and space, and high diversity of dominance, are plentifully displayed by the forests of the Silent Valley in southwestern India. A relatively high species-richness, remarkably thin bark of trees, and high total tree-basal area, indicate that the valley embodies a virgin forest and that conditions for growth are very favourable. Because of the terrain, heterogeneity in habitats is well marked.
The proposed construction of a dam and large flooding reservoir threatens to bring about several undesirable alterations in the environment of the Silent Valley rain- and riparian forests, and the disturbances that would follow such construction and flooding would be highly detrimental to the diversity of the forests and to the complexity of their structure. Hence a plea is made for the setting aside forthwith of a proposed major ‘Silent Valley Biosphere Reserve’, which could safeguard a unique part of the world's genetical heritage and one of its most interesting complexes of natural ecosystems.