, Volume 15, Issue 9, pp 2971-2985

The impact of Amomum villosum cultivation on seasonal rainforest in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China

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Integrating conservation goals with the sustainable use of tropical rain forests has received much attention in recent decades. Amomum villosum, a traditional Chinese medicinal herb, has been cultivated in the understory of seasonal rain forest for 40 years in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China. Cultivated area has reached 58.11 km2 much of which is distributed within nature reserves. This practice has caused controversy on whether A. villosum cultivation would alter the structure and function of the primary forest. This study examined the effects of medicinal plant cultivation on seasonal rain forest by comparing plant diversity, biomass, litterfall and soil nutrients of primary rain forest with disturbed areas where A. villosum is cultivated. The results indicate that plant diversity, tree biomass, litter production and soil nutrients are significantly lower in the disturbed than in the primary rain forest. These results suggest that the cultivation of A. villosum affects the structure and function of the seasonal rain forest in Xishuangbanna.