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Title: Protected forest under-planted with cardamom : impacts and opportunities for conservation and livelihoods
Author: Dhakal, Balram
ISNI:       0000 0004 2707 2995
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2011
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Cultivation of cash crops in the understorey of tropical forests has been promoted in different parts of the world for centuries but the ecological effects of cultivation on forests are little known. I assessed the effects of understorey cultivation of cardamom (Eletteria cardamomum) on forest structure, tree species composition, soil properties and potential for regeneration in the Knuckles Forest Reserve (KFR) in central Sri Lanka through extensive vegetation and soil sampling. In addition, I examined practical techniques for restoring forests affected by cardamom cultivation through experimental manipulations. Forests with cardamom (cardamom plantations) had higher canopy openness and lower tree, sapling and seedling densities than adjacent forests without cardamom (natural forests). Differences in tree species composition (trees ≥5 cm DBH) between cardamom plantations and natural forests were site dependent, but overall, cardamom plantations tended to be more diverse than natural forests, mainly related to the addition of pioneer species. Cardamom plantations had higher concentrations of total P and exchangeable K but lower concentrations of total N and soil pH than the natural forests. Relative to natural forests, cardamom plantations had a higher density of seed in the soil seed bank, with a higher percentage of grass and non-native species. Experimental manipulations in cardamom plantations demonstrated that slashing or uprooting or weeding of cardamom stands enhances tree seedling recruitment over the first 15 months post-treatment. However, given the higher labour costs required for removal of cardamom plants, deliberate weeding of cardamom stands with minimum disturbance to tree seedling emergence may be sufficient to enhance tree regeneration in cardamom plantations. Stakeholders in the Knuckles Forest Reserve have mixed views about the rationality of prohibiting cardamom cultivation in the reserve and forests in the buffer zone. However, there are the opportunities for enhancing cardamom production in agroforestry systems outside the reserve.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cardamom industry ; Forests and forestry ; Knuckles Forest Range (Sri Lanka)