- Commercial harvesting and regeneration of epiphytic macrolichen communities in the Western Ghats, India
- Environmental Conservation
- Volume | Issue number
- 38 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Non-timber forest products form a substantial contribution to the livelihood of many rural communities worldwide. In the Western Ghats, India, epiphytic macrolichens are harvested by Paliyan tribes to generate supplementary income. Paliyan tribes employ two harvesting methods: shallow harvesting, with a minimum of attached bark substratum, and deep harvesting, which exposes the sapwood. To evaluate the regeneration of the lichen community in terms of species diversity, abundance and composition, 320 bark samples of up to 50 cm2 were collected from bark patches where lichens had been harvested previously, as shown by bark scars. Samples selected represented four host tree species, both harvesting methods and seven one-year intervals of time since harvesting. In each case, the field guide estimated sample age, and peer-testing proved these estimates to be reliable up to an age of seven years. Seven years after harvesting, the lichen community showed noteworthy regeneration capacity in terms of total lichen coverage and species richness. However, to assess the risk of local species loss in the long-term, any harvesting should include continuous monitoring of lichen species composition. Since shallow harvesting resulted in a swifter recovery of species abundance and richness compared with deep harvesting, harvesters should preferentially employ the shallow harvesting method.
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