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| Last Updated:: 29/09/2016

Govt to conduct study of alien plant species in bid to check invasion of forests










The environment ministry will conduct a study of alien plant species to craft a programme to check their invasion of India’s forests, a ministry official said.



Invasive alien species are species whose introduction and spread outside their natural habitats threaten biological diversity. Among major threats faced by native plant and animal species and their habitats, the threat by the invasive alien species is considered second only to habitat loss.



“We will soon finalise an implementing agency for it. The agency will need to manage and control alien invasive species in selected forest landscapes of approximately 30,000 hectares area in Central Indian highlands region. Demonstrative sites will be undertaken in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh first,” said an environment ministry official, who did not wish to be identified.



The study will also suggest measures to improve the quality of India’s forests. As per official estimates, India has an estimated species count of 18,000 plants, 30 mammals, 4 birds, 300 freshwater fishes and 1,100 arthropods that are invasive. Sometimes, species native to one part of the country are invasive in another.



The recently released draft of the National Wildlife Action Plan had also batted for a national policy on managing invasive alien species. The impact of biological invasions by alien species is considered to be a major factor in the loss of biodiversity. Invasive alien species can transform landscapes and cause dramatic ecological changes that reduce the adaptability and competitiveness of native species.



The environment ministry will receive World Bank’s Global Environment Facility grant for India’s Ecosystem Services improvement Project (ESIP). As part of this, models will be developed and tested for improving forest quality through effective management of invasive alien species.



The total cost of the project is estimated to be around $1.5 million. The Green India Mission (GIM) aims to improve forest quality over five million hectares and developing new forests over another five million hectares. The ESIP project aligns with GIM as management of invasive species in India’s forests is a focus area.



GIM is expected to also contribute towards India’s voluntary actions that it pledged last October to bring down its greenhouse gas emissions including creating an additional sink of 2.5-3 billion carbon dioxide (CO2) through additional tree and forest cover by 2030.



According to the official quoted above, the selected organization for the study will also hold multi-stakeholder consultations for developing a national research agenda and strategies for specific invasive alien species.




“It will also develop and implement innovative approaches and field-based activities for invasive species removal, replanting with native species and biological control. It will result in enhance national knowledge support base to support the policy on contain the geographic spread of such invasive species,” the official explained.







Source: Livemint