Invasive species removed from over 356 hectares in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

January 16, 2024 06:26 pm | Updated 06:26 pm IST - ERODE

Senna spectabilis, an invasive species, being removed from the Hasanur Divsion of the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Erode district in Tamil Nadu.

Senna spectabilis, an invasive species, being removed from the Hasanur Divsion of the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Erode district in Tamil Nadu. | Photo Credit: GOVARTHAN M

The Forest Department has cleared 356.50 hectares of invasive growth that posed a threat to biodiversity conservation in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR).

Senna spectabilis (Calceolaria shower), a species of the legume family, is native to South and Central America and is grown as an ornamental plant as it has bright yellow flowers. Introduced as shade trees for coffee and firewood in the country, it soon became a threat to native tree species as its dense foliage prevented the growth of other indigenous trees and grass species. Given the threat it posed to wildlife and indigenous plants in tiger reserves, the Madras High Court issued orders for their removal in over 60 hectares in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and 645 hectares in STR.

The Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited (TNPL) collaborated with the Forest Department to remove the trees for which it was asked to pay a conservation charge of ₹350 a tonne, the money to be utilised for eco-restoration of habitats. Following the court order, uprooting began in January 2023 and is continuing at STR. The trees culled will be used as pulpwood for TNPL’s paper mills in Karur and Tiruchi.

Senna spectabilis is found widely along the Dhimbam – Hasanur – Karapallam check post stretch of the STR, and the Hasanur Forest Division earmarked the area for removing the trees. The process began in January 2023 and workers, with the help of machinery, started to remove the trees without disturbing native flora in the core tiger reserve area.

K. Sudhakar, Deputy Director of STR and District Forest Officer, Hasanur Forest Division, told The Hindu that around 11,494 tonnes of senna spectabilis were removed from 356.50 hectares in Hasanur Range. Officials said the process is still continuing and added that its eradication will help the growth of native species.

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