Analysis of tree diversity and factors affecting natural regeneration in fragmented dry deciduous forests of lateritic West Bengal.
West Bengal forest department in India was a pioneer in initiating Joint Forest Management (JFM) at West Midnapore involving participatory forest management by both foresters and local communities in order to protect degraded forests. The research objective was qualitative and quantitative study of tree communities by quadrat method along with identification of major impacts of environmental factors affecting regeneration of five locations under JFM in natural coppicing Sal (Shorea robusta) dominated tropical dry deciduous forests of West Bengal. 23 families, 33 genera and 36 tree species were identified. Dominant families were Anacardiaceae and Combretaceae. There were statistically significant differences in stand diversity, dominance, richness and evenness. Generalized Linear Model predictors such as site categories, seasons, grazing intensity and invasive species frequency had significant impacts on seedling diversity, dominance, richness and density. Surface soil potassium and soil texture were best predictors of seedling abundance. Species with "poor", "no" and "new" regeneration status necessitate proper attention in forest management plans involving regulation of exotic invasive species populations, grazing and browsing, lopping, fire, over-extraction of non-timber forest produce and prevention of illegal felling through vigilance and more active participation of Forest Protection Committees.