Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 987–1000 | Cite as

Comparing tree diversity and composition in coffee farms and sacred forests in the Western Ghats of India

Original Paper


Expansion of coffee cultivation is one of the causes of deforestation and biodiversity loss. However, shade grown coffee has been promoted as a means for preserving biodiversity in the tropics. In this study we compared tree diversity in two types of coffee management regimes with the sacred groves in the Western Ghats of India. We computed species accumulation curves, species diversity indices and evenness indices to compare the different management regimes. Results of diversity indices showed that shade coffee had less diversity compared to sacred groves. Exotic species dominated the tree diversity in lands where the tree harvesting rights are with the growers. Native trees dominated the tree diversity when growers had no ownership rights on trees. A species accumulation curve suggested that the sacred grove had higher species richness compared to other two habitats. Lack of incentive to preserve endemic species as shade trees is forcing growers to plant more exotic species in shade grown coffee plots. If encouraged, shade grown coffee can preserve some biodiversity, but cannot provide all ecological benefits of a natural forest.


Biodiversity Coffee India Land tenure Sacred groves Species dominance 



We would like to thank Dr. Klooster, Dr. R. K. Hegde, Dr. Kushalappa, Tony Stallins, and Shea for helping us in various stages of this study. We would also like to thank all the coffee growers and the villagers in Kodagu for allowing us to do the study in their coffee plots and sacred groves. Finally we would also like to thank anonymous reviewers for all the comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.College of ForestryKodaguIndia

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