Research Paper

Biomass and carbon stock assessment in two savannahs of Western Ghats, India

Kothandaraman Subashree and Somaiah Sundarapandian

Published on: 18 July 2017

DOI: 10.6165/tai.2017.62.272

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2017 vol.62 no.3 pp.272-282


Carbon inventory was done on two savannah ecosystems (sites I & II) of Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Ghats, India. Ten plots of 20 m × 20 m each were laid in each site to study woody vegetation and a total of forty quadrats (4 in each plot) of 1 m × 1 m were laid in each site for the understorey. Both sites showed remarkable variations in biomass and carbon accumulation patterns. Site I (213 Mg C/ha) had higher woody biomass carbon than site II (185.9 Mg C/ha). However, the latter had greater understorey biomass carbon (site I – 3.2 Mg C/ha; site II –20.7 Mg C/ha). Overall, the total vegetation carbon accounted to 216.2 Mg C/ha in site I and 206.6 Mg C/ha in site II. On the other hand, soil carbon was higher in site II (183.5 Mg C/ha) than site I (172.3 Mg C/ha). Soil bulk density increased with increase in soil depth in both sites. Cumulatively, even though both sites had almost equal carbon stocks, they show considerable variation in the amount of carbon stocked in their carbon pools. Woody biomass was the largest carbon pool, followed by soil and understorey biomass. The observed variations could be due to differences in terrain characteristics, edaphic factors, incidence of fires, etc. The study emphasizes the important role of savannahs in stocking considerable amounts of carbon in their different carbon pools.

Keyword: Carbon mitigation, Climate change, Hotspot, Soil carbon, Tropical forest, Wildlife Sanctuary, Woody biomass