To the untrained eye discerning between evergreen and deciduous tree mosaics of the Andaman archipelago can be tough in the wet season but the patches clearly stand out in the dry season in the volcanic ridge-arc islands. In the dry season between January and April, deciduous forests lose leaves and it is easy to distinguish the leafless patches from the evergreen areas that are dark green.
Forests on these islands − that share a majority of their flora and fauna with South-West Myanmar and Western Thailand − have a long history of human use going back to 20,000 years. Most of the forests have had a tryst with logging-associated disturbances starting in the 1800s with British rule in India. At present, selective logging in the Andaman Islands is practised only by the forest department.
Unlike clearing of forest, selective logging involves removing a few important timber trees such that diversity is retained and carbon recovers quickly, explained Akshay Surendra who set out to study the sustainability of the logging exercise, by sampling tree communities that were subjected to different logging treatments across deciduous and evergreen forests.