Students given training to identify invasive species

Published - December 02, 2021 12:00 am IST - Udhagamandalam

Shiny Mariam Rehel from Keystone Foundation explains the importance of mapping invasive species in the Nilgiris.

Shiny Mariam Rehel from Keystone Foundation explains the importance of mapping invasive species in the Nilgiris.

Students of the Government Arts College here were given training as part of a citizen-science initiative initiated by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE) and the Keystone Foundation in Kotagiri to map invasive species in the Nilgiris.

Speaking at the event, Milind Bunyan, Project Co-ordinator and academy coordinator, ATREE, who spoke to students via video link, said that early detection and identifying priority species and habitats could help in the long-term preservation and restoration of threatened native ecosystems. As a first step, the project envisages mapping invasive species in the Moyar-Bhavani landscape in the Nilgiris, with plans to scale up the project based on the success of the initiative.

Students were given a crash course in identifying 27 different species of invasive plants, trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses prevalent in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Mr. Bunyan charted the spread of different species of invasive flora in the landscape, including Lantana camara and wattle trees in the Western Ghats. “As mapping so far has depended on the Forest Department’s data so far, it is very difficult to chart the spread of invasive species in habitats outside the control of the Forest Department, which makes citizen-science extremely important,” he said.

The training – Participatory Assessment of the Regional Distribution of Exotic Species in India- was organised with the co-operation of Keystone Foundation in Kotagiri.

Shiny Mariam Rehel from Keystone Foundation said that the project aimed at developing a comprehensive map of invasive species in the Nilgiris that could help policy makers in formulating comprehensive conservation strategies to help native habitats and wildlife in the Nilgiris. More details of the project can be found on the website - ;

M. Easwaramoorthy, Principal of the Government Arts College, said that the college had removed over a 100 eucalyptus trees on the college premises and replaced them with Shola species. “Invasive species are a huge threat to the ecosystem,” he said.

B. Ramakrishnan, assistant professor at the Department of Wildlife Biology, J. Ebanasar, Head of Zoology Department, Franklin C. Jose from the Department of Botany and H. Mohanakrishnan from the Department of Wildlife Biology took part in the event.

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