The Division Bench of the Madras High Court with Justices M.M. Sundresh and N. Sathish Kumar, while hearing a PIL seeking removal of invasive trees from the Tamil Nadu region of the Western Ghats, has directed the forest department to take appropriate measures to curb the menace. Over 50-years ago, the forest department of Tamil Nadu planted exotic non-native invasive trees to meet the demands of firewood, wood pulp, and barks for tanning. There was a planting rush, of main eucalyptus, pine and wattle trees, which covered 11000 hectares of the Shola grasslands which is one of the two biogeographic ecosystems of India. These invasive trees continued to grow since then and have now covered about 22000 hectares of grasslands interfering with the free movement and vegetation for the wildlife, with very few patches of grasslands remaining. As a result, there are the frequent sighting of elephants and other animals raiding farms and fields, which poses serious problems.
The PIL sought to eradicate the entire non-native species, but that’s not possible since the grasslands that have evolved over 1000 years and modified in 60 years, can’t go back to its original state. Also, it is very tasking to cut these exotic trees as they can only be accessed on foot. However, the forest department can eradicate entirely the non-native trees from the remaining patches of grasslands, make the possible invasion of native trees while thinning the exotic plantation and begin eradicating invasive trees, experimenting first on 1-2 plots of 10 hectares and providing the grasses grown best conditions. These would require caution, patience and sincere efforts and must be implemented on a small scale, keeping in mind the needs of the local people.
Tags : #India#Environment#PIL