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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 Hillschanged 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 .

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