Similipal Biosphere Reserve was named after the Simili plant. It was established in 1994 as part of the MAB (Man and Biosphere) program with UNESCO, the objective being to bring people and their livelihoods along with the forest and its wildlife under a cohesive eco-development initiative. That way both the socio-economic development of the people is enriched and there is less pressure on the forests. It is within the Mayurbhanj district of the state of Orissa and is 2750 square kilometers. Broken up, 2091 sq. km. of is forest reserve while 659 sq. km. is protected. It is a critical National Park that supports numerable wildlife and biodiversity, is home to several different indigenous communities, and is a critical watershed. In fact, Similipal provides water to 20 million people both in Orissa and other surrounding states.
As a biosphere reserve this place is dedicated to both the landscaped and the biodiversity within, as well as accounts for developmental activities that work alongside the local people to resolve conservation issues. A few of the significant features of Similipal are that it has several water sources, 2 of which (Barehipani and Joranda) are permanent waterfalls; it receives relatively high precipitation, and resembles the Western Ghats in regards to flora and fauna while also being a part of the Mahanandian Biogeographic Reserve.
Similipal has a rich biodiversity with over 3000 species of plants, 94 of which are orchids, and a multitude of animal species, one of which being the rare black melanistic tiger. The endemism has not been fully explored in this reserve but it is thought to be potentially high due to tree ferns, medicinal plants, orchids, and more. One example of endemism is a new species of Palm Civet, scientifically classified as Paradoxurus jorandensis, found in the early 1980’s and determined to be endemic. In regards to fauna, Similipal is distinct for its high elephant population, being one of the major concentrations of the Central-India, and there is also a large variety of cat species.
Similipal is comprised of three main kinds of ecosystems being forests, swamps, wetlands, and grasslands. There are 4 distinct types of forests, being: Northern Tropical Semi-evergreen forest, Northern Tropical Moist deciduous forest, dry deciduous hill fores, and high level Sal forest. A major part of the Similipal Biosphere Reserve includes the Similipal Tiger Reserve, which was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1979.