During the 19th century , the forests of Parambikulam were in two broad administrative units viz., Sungam Forest Reserve and Parambikulam Forest Reserve.
Porter, in 1886 wrote the first ever plan to manage the Sungam Forest Reserve. Heavy exploitation of forests for valuable timber started then. Teak planting began in Parambikulam during 1921 and in 1983 was the last plantation raised.
Sungam Forest Reserve was administratively the Sungam Range of erstwhile Nemmara Forest Division and Parambikulam Forest Reserve was the Parambikulam Range.
One of the major milestones was the introduction of the tram way in 1907. It was designed to exploit the forests and remove valuable timber to Chalakkudy wherefrom it could be transported by road. However, the Special Financial Committee abolished it in 1951.
Based on P.Narayanan Nair's plan, a special Teak Plantation Division was constituted from Parambikulam Forest Reserve in 1962. By then the Sungam Forest Reserve was declared as Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary (30 sq. miles) under the administrative control of State Wildlife Preservation Officer, Peermedu. Later in 1973, the Teak Plantation Division was dissolved and merged with the already notified sanctuary and a total area of 271 sq. km under the dual control of DFO, TP division and DFO, Nemmara.
In 1985, the sanctuary was administratively reorganized and it took the present shape and extent of 285 sq. km.