Coimbatore

Forest Department worried about spread of Senna spectabilis trees in Mudumalai

A young, juvenile Senna spectabilis tree growing in the midst of two native trees in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve   | Photo Credit: specialarrangement

The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) may be facing the threat of being overrun by another invasive species of flora, with the Senna spectabilis making incursions into the reserve from neighbouring Kerala and Bandipur.

K.K. Kaushal, Field Director of MTR, told The Hindu that he estimated that the tree had taken over around 20 hectares of the reserve over the last few years. “It is quite abundant in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, but has only recently spread to MTR, with experts claiming that it could be even a bigger threat to native flora than Lantana camara,” said Mr. Kaushal.

Godwin Vasanth Bosco, restoration ecologist and member of the High Court-appointed expert panel on native species management, said the trees had initially been introduced to Kerala as an ornamental species. He said that the trees preferred to grow in moist deciduous forests. “From what we have seen, native species do not seem to be growing underneath their canopy, so shrubs and other native plants are being displaced, while no animals also seem to prefer feeding on the trees,” said Mr. Bosco.

The trees are seen in both the core and buffer areas of MTR, with parts of Nilakottai, Kargudi, Singara and Masinagudi ranges being affected. Deputy Director of MTR (core), S. Senbagapriya, said that in the core areas, there were only around 10-12 adult trees which have started flowering, while there were a few other juveniles. “So if we start removing them right away, it seems probable that we can control their spread by the end of the year,” said Ms. Senbagapriya.

The deputy directors of MTR (core and buffer zones), have ordered the field staff to conduct beat-wise surveys to identify locations where the Senna spectabilis has spread. “We estimate that these trees have spread into the reserve in very small numbers, meaning that their proliferation is just beginning. So, a concerted effort to remove them, conducted alongside removal of Lantana and Eupatorium, could work in restricting them before they become a huge problem,” said Mr. Kaushal. The removal of the trees from the landscape would begin this year.


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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 1:01:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/forest-department-worried-about-spread-of-senna-spectabilis-trees-in-mudumalai/article29461892.ece

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