Senna spectabilis removed from 400 hectares of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in the Nilgiris

The tree is believed to have been introduced to the landscape by four private estates in MTR, who had begun growing them as ornamental trees.

March 31, 2024 03:26 pm | Updated 03:52 pm IST - UDHAGAMANDALAM

Senna spectabilis. File

Senna spectabilis. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The highly invasive tree, Senna spectabilis, has been removed from around 400 hectares of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) since January of this year, said officials from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department.

The tree, which is estimated to have spread over 1,500 hectares of the tiger reserve in just the last few years, decimates native forests and local ecology, and is believed to have been introduced to the landscape by four private estates in MTR, who had begun growing them as ornamental trees.

Officials said that the Madras High Court had ordered the removal of the tree, due to the impact it has to local ecology from both Mudumalai and Sathayamangalam Tiger Reserves.

Speaking to The Hindu, Conservator of Forests and Field Director of MTR, D. Venkatesh, said the Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited (TNPL) is removing and helping to transport the trees away from MTR for use in paper pulp manufacturing. “Removing the trees also reduces the chances for forest fires,” he said.

Officials said that the High Court had also passed orders instructing the four private estates in MTR, that are believed to have introduced the species to the landscape, to remove it from their estates. “This will have to be done at their own expense. The TNPL is only removing the trees from inside the MTR reserve forests,” said Mr. Venkatesh.

The Field Director said that the forest department envisages a three-year plan to completely remove Senna spectabilis from MTR but said that a collaborative approach towards removing the species from the entire landscape, including MTR, Sathyamangalam, Bandipur, Nagarhole, Wayanad and BRT Wildlife Sanctuary was imperative if the species was to be completely eradicated.

“There is a chance that the species could invade MTR again if it’s not removed entirely from the landscape. So, we have urged the managers of the surrounding tiger reserves to also remove it from their areas,” said Mr. Venkatesh, who said that the forest department was aware of Senna spectabilis also spreading along the slopes of Coonoor, but said that the spread was only sporadic and can be controlled.

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