The rain–runoff response of tropical humid forest ecosystems to use and reforestation in the Western Ghats of India.
The effects of forest degradation and use and establishment of tree-plantations on degraded or modified forest ecosystems at multi-decadal time-scales using tree-plantations on the streamflow response are less studied in the humid tropics when compared to deforestation and forest conversion to agriculture. In the Western Ghats of India (Uttar Kannada, Karnataka State), a previous soil hydraulic conductivity survey linked with rain IDF (intensity–duration–frequency) had suggested a greater occurrence of infiltration-excess overland within the degraded forest and reforested areas and thus potentially higher streamflow (Bonell et al., 2010). We further tested these predictions in Uttar Kannada by establishing experimental basins ranging from 7 to 23 ha across three ecosystems, (1) remnant tropical evergreen Forest (NF), (2) heavily-used former evergreen forest which now has been converted to tree savanna, known as degraded forest (DF) and (3) exotic Acacia plantations (AC, Acacia auriculiformis) on degraded former forest land. In total, 11 basins were instrumented (3 NF, 4 AC and 4 DF) in two geomorphological zones, i.e., Coastal and Up-Ghat (Malnaad) and at three sites (one Coastal, two Up-Ghat). The rainfall–stream- flow observations collected (at daily and also at a 36 min time resolutions in the Coastal basins) over a 2–3 year period (2003–2005) were analysed.