Regeneration status of tree composition in the sacred groves of Mercara,Central Western Ghats

Sacred groves are pristine forest patches that are left untouched for centuries in the name of local deities, beliefs and taboos. They play an important role in conservation of biodiversity as they are abode of many endemic and threatened species. Tree species diversity, structure and their regeneration status was investigated in the eight sacred groves of Mercara, Central Western Ghats. A total of 170 tree species belonging to 110 genera and 49 families were recorded from them. Higher species richness was observed in the sacred groves which were bigger in size and moderately disturbed. Though, a good number of tree density, seedling and sapling density and basal area were observed in all the eight sacred groves, an inversely proportional relation was observed between degree of disturbances and tree density, seedling density, sapling density and basal area. Lesser similarity between adult and regenerating tree species and greater number of species with no regeneration status and reappearing status indicated a possible change in the tree species composition of these sacred groves in the near future. Hence it becomes crucial that efforts should be taken in a sustainable manner to protect these pristine forest patches for future generations.

Author(s): Shwetha Bharathi and A. G. Devi Prasad

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