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Biomass and carbon recovery of secondary forest in a Montane Subtropical Forest of North Eastern India


Shifting cultivation has been the primary cause of forest degradation and destruction. Secondary forests are spreading around the globe and hence the importance of secondary forests has been recognised and its growth could help to alleviate the effects of deforestation and supplement existing conservation efforts. Various complex processes occur in regenerating secondary forests; in the initial stages, the forests are dominated by herbs and shrubs, and in the latter stages, trees predominate. The current study was carried out in Reiek forest, Mizoram, India at various phases of succession following abandonment in order to better understand biomass and carbon recovery in differently aged fallow periods (FP) and natural forest (NF). Fallow ages were divided into four categories: FP03, FP07, FP11, and FP15 (i.e., 0–3, 4–7, 8–11, and 12–15 years old), with three additional experimental plots in NF for comparison. In this study the biomass and carbon in standing vegetation were estimated. The soil organic carbon (SOC) was also quantified. We found that all the fallow ages and NF were significantly different in biomass, carbon stock, and SOC. Longer fallow period (FP) stores more biomass and carbon than shorter FP. Total biomass stock (TBS) of more than 42% and total carbon stock (TCS) of more than 43% of NF was achieved in plots abandoned for 12–15 years. Although SC fallow takes longer period to recover to a forest, they perform a crucial role as a carbon sink in the atmosphere.

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The first author gratefully acknowledges the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, for providing financial support in the form of INSPIRE Fellowship (Grant No. DST/INSPIRE Fellowship/2016/IF160826 dated 30.9.2016). Mr. Beiseiliana (field guide) was very helpful in the field study and sample collection, which the authors appreciate. The authors are also grateful for the cooperation and assistance of Village Council officials in completing field work efficiently.


This work was supported by Department of Science and Technology—New Delhi, Government of India in the form of INSPIRE Fellowship (Grant No. DST/INSPIRE Fellowship/2016/IF160826 dated 30.9.2016).

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SBS, SK, NH: Conceptualization, methodology. SBS, SK, NH: Formal analysis. SBS: Investigation, writing original draft. SK: Supervision. All authors revised, provided critical feedback and approved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Suresh Kumar.

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Sharma, S.B., Kumar, S. & Hegde, N. Biomass and carbon recovery of secondary forest in a Montane Subtropical Forest of North Eastern India. Trop Ecol (2022).

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  • Aboveground biomass
  • Carbon sink
  • Fallow period
  • Forest succession
  • Natural forest
  • Secondary forests
  • Shifting cultivation