Resource Details

Cultural drivers of reforestation in tropical forest groves of the Western Ghats of India

Literature: Journal Articles

Bhagwat, S. A., Nogué, S., & Willis, K. J. (2014). Cultural drivers of reforestation in tropical forest groves of the Western Ghats of India. Forest Ecology and Management, 329, 393-400.

Contact Info

Corresponding author: (S.A. Bhagwat)


  • University of Oxford
  • University of Bergen


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Species Info

  • Acacia spp.
  • Aglaia anamallayana
  • Aglaia jainii
  • Aglaia simplicifolia
  • Apodytes beddomei
  • Artocarpus heterophyllus
  • Artocarpus hirsuta
  • Baccaurea courtallensis
  • Dimocarpus longan
  • Dimorphocalyx beddomei
  • Diospyros candolleana
  • Diospyros montana
  • Diospyros sp.
  • Diospyros sylvatica
  • Drypetes elata
  • Elaeocarpus serratus
  • Elaeocarpus tuberculatus
  • Eurya japonica
  • Flacourtia montana
  • Glochidion bourdillonii
  • Glochidion malabaricum
  • Gomphandra tetrandra
  • Holoptelia integrifolia
  • Hopea parviflora
  • Hopea ponga
  • Knema attenuata
  • Litsea floribunda
  • Litsea mysorensis
  • Litsea oleoides
  • Litsea stocksii
  • Lophopetalum wightianum
  • Lythraceae
  • Lagerstroemia microcarpa
  • Macaranga peltata
  • Mangifera indica
  • Melastomataceae
  • Memecylon malabaricum
  • Memecylon talbotianum
  • Memecylon umbellatum
  • Memecylon spp.
  • Meliaceae
  • Dysoxylum malabaricum
  • Michelia champaka
  • Moraceae
  • Ficus amplissima
  • Ficus asperima
  • Ficus beddomei
  • Ficus callosa
  • Ficus hispida
  • Ficus microcarpa
  • Ficus mysorensis
  • Ficus nervosa
  • Ficus racemosa
  • Ficus sp.
  • Ficus tsjahela
  • Ficus virens
  • Neonauclea purpurea
  • Randia rugulosa
  • Rubiaceae
  • Ixora nigricans
  • Madhuca longifolia
  • Semecarpus anacardium
  • Murraya paniculata
  • Phyllanthus emblica
  • Strombosia zeylanica
  • Syzygium munronii
  • Syzygium phyllareoides
  • Syzygium zeylanicum
  • Toona ciliata
  • Vernonia monosis
  • Apiaceae
  • Pimpinella spp.
  • Pandanaceae
  • Pandanus spp.
  • Malvaceae
  • Labiatae
  • Cyperaceae
  • Asteraceae
  • Amaranthaceae
  • Acanthaceae
  • Caryota urens
  • Cassia fistula
  • Coffea arabica



  • This paper examined the origins of sacred grove forests in the Western Ghats of India and postulated drivers of reforestation.
  • Researchers reconstructed the history of two forest groves by obtaining 100cm-long sediment sequences at each. The age-depth relationship of each sequence was analyzed through radiocarbon dating at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit and the CHRONO center at Queens University. Plant taxa in the sediment sequences were identified through standard palynoligical methods.
  • Results indicate that contrary to expectations, the two sacred groves examined are not relics of an anciet, continuous forest, but instead only about 400 years old. This, along with a decrease in general forestland cover outside of sacred groves, suggests that sacred groves were actively reforested.
  • The authors indicate a number of possibilties to explain forest recovery on such groves including positive cultural taboos, formalization of land use after the fall of the Vijayanagara empire and societal awareness of forest loss and the ecosystem services that forest provide.
  • The authors suggest three management implications of this study: First, the need to understand the synergies between ecological and social realms. Second, the ability for wider-scale forest recovery to take-place through multiple patches. Third, that conservation policies should embrace patches outside of core protection areas as patches enhance the function of already protected areas.

Geographical Region

  • South Asia
  • Ecosystems

  • Tropical Wet Forest
  • Country

  • India
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