Traditional knowledge systems in large cardamom farming: biophysical and management diversity in Indian mountainous regions

Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum) is a perennial cash crop grown under the Himalayan alder (Alnus nepalensis) or mix forest tree species in the hills of Nepal, Darjeeling hills, Sikkim and Bhutan. The cardamom based agroforestry system in the Himalayas has proved to be a sustainable land use practice at the landscape level supporting multiple functions and ecosystem services. Large cardamom agroforestry is a mountain adaptive slope land management and production system that helps conserving soil and water, maintain soil fertility and high rate of carbon sequestration than any other land use systems in the region. The system is a major contributor of sustainable development in the mountain region by providing socio-ecological sustainability, watershed functions, and cultural, educational and recreational values in additional to the employment opportunities in ecotourism. Some of the ecological functions of the system are habitat and corridor for wild animals, conduit of water, energy, gene flow, seeds, etc. barrier for wind, nutrients and animals, etc. while the system also help augmenting sustainability and well being of the upstream and downstream communities.