India: Cardomom Cultivation in Tropical Forests

Essential to understanding how forests and humans can live together is
knowing as much as possible about alternative forest resources that,
unlike plantations, actually depend on healthy mature forest canopies.
This article helps us learn a bit more about the subject. –Deane

The ecological effects of cardamom cultivation in the understorey of
tropical forests have been debated but remain poorly understood. The
aim of this study was to determine the effect of cardamom cultivation
and management on forest structure and surface soil properties in the
montane forests of Knuckles Conservation Area in Sri Lanka.

and soil were sampled in forest under-planted with cardamom (mean
density of cardamom 6098 stems ha-1) and adjacent forest with a low
density of naturally regenerated cardamom (121 stems ha -1). The
density of trees (? 5 cm dbh), saplings (? 5 cm dbh and ? 1.5 m
height), and seedlings (?1.5 m height) were higher in forests with a
low density of cardamom than forests with a high density of cardamom,
while stand basal area was marginally higher in the forests with a
high density of cardamom. Canopy openness was higher in the cardamom
plantation forests (35 ± 8 %) than in the low density cardamom forest
(19 ± 3 %). Soil pH and concentrations of total N and ammonium were
higher in forests with a low density of cardamom, while concentrations
of total P and exchangeable K were higher in the cardamom plantation
forests and soil organic matter and concentrations of exchangeable Ca
and Mg did not differ. We conclude that cardamom cultivation results
in a net loss of stems through weeding and opening of the canopy to
promote cardamom production. Effects of Cardamom cultivation on soil
nutrient concentrations may occur directly, as a consequence
ofertilizer addition, or indirectly as a result of changes in nutrient
cycling that accompany changes in tree density and canopy opening.

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