Four important rivers of Kerala flow through Malappuram district. They are, Chaliyar, Kadalundippuzha, Bharathappuzha and Tirurpuzha. Chaliyar has a length of 169 Kms, and originates from Illambaleri hills in Tamil Nadu. Important tributaries of this river are Chalippuzha, Punnapuzha, Pandiyar, Karimpuzha, Cherupuzha and Vadapurampuzha. Chaliyar traverses through Nilambur, Mampad, Edavanna, Areekode, Vazhakkad and flows into the sea at Beypore in Kozhikode district. Kadalundippuzha is formed by the confluence of two rivers, the Olipuzha and Veliyar. Olipuzha originates from Cherakomban hill and Veliyar from Erattakomban hill. They flow by the wilds of silent valley and traverses through Eranad and Valluvanad regions, before flowing in to the sea at Kadalundi Nagaram. It passes through places like Melattur, Pandikkad, Malappuram, Panakkad, Parappur, Kooriyad and Thirurangadi. Kadalundippuzha has a circuits course of 130 Kms. Bharathappuzha the second longest river in Kerala, flows by the southern border of the district and drains in to the sea at Ponnani. Its main tributary, Thothappuzha, originates from the silent Valley, flows through Thootha, Elamkulam, Pulamanthole and joins the main river at Pallippuram. After a course in Palakkad and Thrissur districts, the Bharathappuzha again enters Malappuram district at Tiruvegappura and from Kuttippuram onwards, the river belongs entirely to Malappuram. Tirurpuzha 48 Kms long, originates from Athavanad hills in Tirur Taluk, flows in a south west course upto Tirunavaya, deviares to encircle Tirur Taluk, flows in a south west course up to Tirunavaya, deviates to encircle Tirur town and flows south west parallel to the sea, until it joins the Bharathappuzha near Ponnani port. Of these rivers, only Chaliyar is perennial; all other get dried up in summer and hence Malappuram District is prone to drought. In Tirur and ponnani taluks, Kayalas (back water) like Biyyamp, Veliyancode, manur, Kodinhi etc. offer fishing and navigation facilities.
FLORA AND FAUNA :
The major forest area is concentrated in Nilambur and Vandoor blocks and Melattur in the Western Ghats. Of the forests, 80 percent is deciduous and the rest is evergreen. Teak, Rosewood, Venteak, Choropin, Mahagonyh, etc. are the important trees. Other varieties like Kulamavu and villa pine are used in the plywood industry. Bamboo hills extensively grown in all parts of the forest. The district has also several man made plantations mainly of Teak.
Elephants, deers, tigers blue monkeys, bears, boars, rabbits etc. are found in the forests along with variety of birds and reptiles. Forests are the main source of raw materials for a number of wood-based industrial units. Besides timber, firewood and green manure, forest produces like honey, medicinal herbs, spices etc. are collected. The tribals collect minor forest produces. Bamboo for pulp factories is mainly supplied from Nilambur forests. The forests are protected by two forest divisions Nilambur North and Nilambur South. The social forestry division promotes planting of trees outside forestlands, for protecting natural forests. About 50 Acres of Mangroves forest are spread over kadalundi Estuary in Vallikkunnu Gram a Panchayat.
Malappuram district is not rich in mineral wealth. Laterite stone is found abundantly in the midland areas. It is exploited economically for construction work and hundreds of quarries cutting laterite stone known as Vettukallu are in operation, giving employment to thousands. It was Dr. Francis Buchanan, a Scottish scholar who named the porous rock Laterite based on the Latin term Laterites, meaning brick stone. He conducted his studies in and around Angadipuram in 1800 A.D.
Deposits of lime shells are found in the coastal belt, mainly in ponnani and Kadalundi nagaram. The coastal sands of ponnani and Veliyancode contain heavy minerals like ilmenite and monosite. China clay, the principal raw material for porcelain industry, is found abundantly in many parts of district. Iron-ore, as Magentite-Quartizite is found in Nilambur, Vaniyambalm, Kalikavu and Chembrassery. Karuvarakkundu in the district derived its name from iron-ore cutting and blacksmithy, which flourished in the district from very ancient time. Nilambur region of the district, forms part of the hidden Wayanad Goldfields Placer gold; Main zones for auriferous gravels are in Nilambur valley, namely Pandippuzha-Chiyarpuzha zone and Punnapuzha-Maruthappuzha zone.