Exotic trees eating up Western Ghat’s grasslands.
Why in news ?
- Over four decades, the country lost almost one-fourth of these grasslands
- It is because of exotic invasive trees blams for the loss .
- Even before, grassland afforestation using pine, acacia and eucalyptus are exotic which ceases in 1996.
- According to satellite images revealed from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER, Tirupati)
- Showed grassland loss in Tamil Nadu’s Palani hills in early 2018
- It studies how shola – Grasslands across the Ghats lost
- In addition to, It ranges from the Baba Budan Hills in Karnataka to Tamil Nadu’s Ashambu Hills – changed in extent between 1972 and 2017.
- Besides , The data reveals that 60% of the shola-grassland landscape has changed
- Even almost 40% (516 km2) of native high-elevation grasslands have disappeared.
- Most of this loss occurred on the mountain tops of the Nilgiri, Palani and Anamalai hill ranges
- primarily due to the expansion of exotic trees (pine, acacia and eucalyptus).
- invasion by existing trees increased areas under exotic plantations by
- 27% in the Palanis and
- 17% in the Nilgiris.
- shola-grassland ecosystems in Tamil Nadu showed the highest rates of invasion.
- Even shola forests have remained “relatively unchanged” over these years.
- Even though no plantations established between 2003 and 2017
- The Anamalai-Munnar areas have also remained stable during this time.
What is shola-grasslands ?
They are characterised by patches of stunted evergreen shola trees in the valleys and grasslands on hill slopes
What are exotic plants ?
Exotic plants, or introduced plants, are plant species that introduced to a region in which they are not native. Many cultivated plants used as ornamentals are exotic species.
- The immediate reaction is to remove all exotics including mature plantations from grasslands but that should not be done .