Evergreen forests are to be found on the windward side of the Western Ghats that run for 1,500 km down the west coast of India from Gujurat to Tamil Nadu, at elevations of between 200 and 1,500m asl, with rainfall of between 2,500 and 5,000mm a year. Their vegetation includes more than fifty plant genera that are also represented in the Gondwanan Forests of Australia.
These montane evergreen forests are diverse, multilayered and rich in epiphytes though the canopy at 15 to 20 meters is comparatively low. More than half the tree species are endemic. The majority of the fifty endemic plant genera are also monotypic. The shorter the dry season and the higher the altitude the greater the proportion of endemic plant and animals species.
The globally threatened flora and fauna in the Western Ghats amount to 229 plant species, 31 mammal species, 15 bird species, 52 amphibian species, four reptile species, and one fish species. Of the total of 332 globally threatened species in the Western Ghats, 55 are Critically Endangered, 148 are Endangered, and 129 are Vulnerable.
The major threats to this ecoregion stem from agriculture, mining, hydroelectric projects and urban expansion. Most of the commercially valuable trees have already been harvested, so logging is no longer a significant threat. Mining for iron and manganese ore are now the major contributors to habitat destruction.
Many of the valleys that supported large stands of species-rich forests have been submerged by reservoirs created by the construction of hydroelectric dams. In addition to this inundation of large areas, the secondary activities associated with dam construction, such as road building, access and encroachment into intact forests, expanded settlement, and intensified fuelwood collection, have exacerbated habitat loss and degradation. Many of the remaining forest patches that harbor endemic species are being converted to rubber, areca, and coffee plantations.