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| Last Updated:: 27/09/2016

Coffee, rubber and areca plantations home to 204 bird species









Coffee, rubber and areca forests in Western Ghats are home to over 200 bird species, including 13 endemic ones, a study said.



Over a period of two years a group of scientists conducted intensive research in 187 plantations spread over an area of 30,000 sq km to assess tropical bird diversity outside the protected areas.



Led by Dr Krithi K Karanth of Wildlife Conservation Society, the scientists found 204 bird species of which 170 were residents and 13 endemic to Western Ghats.



They found coffee plantation was home to more birds than areca and rubber, but all three agroforests were important for bird conservation in the ecologically-rich Western Ghats region.



"Large-bodied frugivores like pigeons and hornbills are found in much higher densities in coffee plantation. These birds play a very important role of seed-dispersal and maintenance of forest trees in the region," said Shashank Dalvi who is a co-author of the research paper and one of the leading ornithologists in the country.



The scientists found a clear positive association of tree density and tree cover in the surrounding areas, on bird diversity.



Changing agricultural practices that open-up shade tree canopy or switching from coffee and areca to monoculture crops such as rubber can seriously damage the ability of these agroforests to support birds, says the report published in 'Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution' journal.



Agroforests of the Western Ghats play a critical supplementary role in conserving India's birds.



The authors note that the biodiversity value of agroforests discovered in the study should be incorporated into future planning and policy decisions to facilitate and promote long-term biodiversity conservation.



These scientific results should be integrated with policy and markets so that biodiversity rich agroforests can be incentivised to promote sustainable farming practices that enhance birds in coffee, rubber and areca agroforests, say the scientists. 







Source: The Times of India