The Reserve area was named as ‘Hailey National Park’ in 1936. This was renamed in 1954-55 as ‘Ramganga National Park’ and again in 1955-56 as ‘Corbett National Park’. Its the oldest National Park of India. It was one of the nine Tiger Reserves created at the launch of the Project Tiger in 1973. The original area of the Park was 323.75 sq. km. to which 197.07 sq. km. was added later. An area of 797.72 sq. km. was added as buffer of the Corbett Tiger Reserve in 1991. This area includes the whole of Kalagarh Forest Division (including 301.18 sq. km. area of Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary), 96.70 sq. km. of Ramnagar Forest Division and 89 sq. km. The administrative control over the entire area is that of the Field Director of the Reserve.
Corbett includes various types of rich forest and habitats. Amongst some, northern moist deciduous, Northern tropical dry deciduous and himalayan sub-tropical pine forests. Major flora in the area include: Sal, khair, sissoo, ber, kuthber, bel, chbilla, dhak, semal, khingan, kharpat, rohini, bakli, pula and bamboo. Whereas fauna varies from mammals: Tiger Panthera tigris, leopard Panthera pardus, elephant Elephas maximus, chital Axis axis, sambar Cervus unicolor, hog deer Azis percinus, barking deer Muntiacus muntjak, wild boar Sus scrofa, langur Presbytis entellus and Rhesus monkey Macaca mulatta;
Bird population is estimated at over 500 species, and is recognised as a supreme birding destination. Common ones include Peacock, Jungle Fowl, partridge, Kaleej Pheasant, crow, vulture, parakeet, Laughing Thrush, oriole, kingfisher, drongo, dove, woodpecker, duck, teal, stork, cormorant and seagull;
Main reptiles species in the area include: Indian marsh crocodile or mugger Crocodilus palustris, gharial Gavialis gangeticus, King cobra Naja bungarus, common krait Bungarus caoruleus, cobra Naja naja, Russels viper Vipera ruselli and python Python molorus and monitor lizard; and fish species are Mahaseer Barbus tor, kalimuchi Barbus chilinoides, kalabasu Labeo calabasu, chilwa Oxygastro bacaila and goonch Bargarius bargarius.
The main focus of the management is on protection, with other objectives being habitat and water management. Corbett management is also focusing on ecotourism as a driver for sustainable development. A few years ago the Eco-development program used to exist in the area. The then Uttar Pradesh Forest Department (Now the Uttarakhand Forest Department) had formulated guidelines on ecodevelopment, which formed one of the important components under the World Bank aided UP Forestry Project. Eco-development Committees were being formed in villages situated in the peripheral areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve. Reference suggested, twelve eco-development committees were formed.
A Spearhead Team for Corbett Tiger Reserve were trained by Wildlife Institute of India during October 1997. With the help of this team, staff, NGOs and Ecodevelopment Committee members were trained in participatory methods for micro-planning and monitoring at Corbett Centre for Conservation by conducting workshops and study tours. During 1998, two cluster workshops were conducted for field staff from protected areas (PAs) of Uttarakhand (a new State created in the year 2000 out of the erstwhile State of Uttar Pradesh). Seven Spearhead Teams from different PAs of Uttar Pradesh were trained in Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methodology and techniques of micro-planning. Eco-development Committee (EDC) members from 22 villages were trained in three workshops so as to enable them to discharge their responsibilities effectively. Several workshops had also been conducted at village and range level as part of the micro-planning process.