Keywords: biomass, herb layer productivity, light gaps, stem density, Western Ghats, India, tree biomass productivity, agroforestry, village agriculture, forest management
Herb layer productivity under different light gaps in the forests of Western Ghats of Karnataka, India
A productivity estimation of tree, shrub and herb layer biomass was undertaken in Uttara Kannada, a Western Ghats district in Karnataka in differentially managed forests. In addition to biomass, light gap in these sample sites was also estimated to understand the relationship between the light interception pattern at different canopy layers and their productivity. The studies indicate that tree biomass productivity decreases and herb productivity increases with increasing light gap. However, the herb biomass productivity attains maximum height at 40–60% light gaps than in plots with no trees or 100% light gap indicating that highest herb biomass is found in forests managed for leaf manure than in grasslands. This further indicates that partial shading enhances herb layer productivity. Thus, a strategy of undertaking agroforestry in villages to enhance the total biomass productivity to meet the needs of the villages was suggested.