Growing cardamom impacts forests for decades

18 May 2012

Over 25 years after people stopped growing cardamom in Sri Lanka's Knuckles Forest Reserve (KFR), the spice crop is still having an impact on the forest, according to a recent study in Forest Ecology and Management. The clearing of understory plants and the use of fertilizers continue to shape the forest in the protected area.

Cardamom is grown in the shade of the rainforest canopy and so does not require deforestation like other crops. However, often forest vegetation beneath the canopy is cleared. In Knuckles Forest Reserve, researchers found a lower density of plants and different species in the cardamom crop forests versus untouched forests even though the crop was banned in the area since 1985.