Plans afoot to uproot lantana from Bandipur, BRT reserve

A vast swathe of wildlife habitat in Bandipur, BRT Hills, M.M. Hills, and Nagarahole has been invaded by lantana.

A vast swathe of wildlife habitat in Bandipur, BRT Hills, M.M. Hills, and Nagarahole has been invaded by lantana.

There are plans to uproot lantana spread over 70,000 hectares of forests in BRT Tiger Reserve and Bandipur during the course of next five years.

While the BRT Tiger Reserve has notified the expression of interest to uproot lantana over 20,000 hectares of forest, the target for Bandipur is 50,000 hectares. However, the expression of interest for Bandipur is yet to be notified though it is ready and is expected to be floated in due course. A vast swathe of wildlife habitat in Bandipur, BRT Hills, M.M. Hills, and Nagarahole have been invaded by lantana which is inedible and degrades the ecosystem.

But there are concerns that uprooting it on such a scale will entail disturbance to the forest as it will involve deployment of a large number of men and machinery.

Wildlife activists said the habitat will suffer from disturbance and the transportation of the uprooted lantana and use of machinery will be on an industrial scale and it was bound to result in unauthorised entry of men and material to the critical tiger habitat. Though the decision to remove lantana is welcome, there should be a scientific study as to how to go about it, said the activists.

However, Santosh, Deputy Conservator of Forests, BRT Tiger Reserve, said this is only the first step in addressing the problem posed by the proliferation of lantana and there will be extensive consultations with those who evince interest in the project and other stakeholders besides technical presentation on the issue.

“We are removing lantana on a small scale and the results are encouraging as new vegetation, which was suppressed by the weed, was now proliferating and improving the habitat,” he added. Mr. Santosh said lantana spread over 20,000 hectares will be removed in five years at an average of 4,000 hectares per year. But given the hilly terrain, it is an approximation and the figures could vary. There will be continuous monitoring of the activity and priority will be given to the local tribals for uprooting the weed, he added.

Preference will be given to agency which will use minimum machinery, as per the EoI and the density classification of lantana has been mapped and would be shared with the approved agency during the time of signing an MoU. The EoI also states that all expenses for uprooting, transporting, and converting it into useful products has to be borne by the agency at their own cost and no financial support will be given by the Forest Department.

Besides, no permission will be issued to establish labour camps within the forest area. The EoI also states that uprooting of lantana should take place with “minimum disturbance to wildlife”. But activists say deployment of men and material will result in disturbance.

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Printable version | May 28, 2022 4:41:20 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/plans-afoot-to-uproot-lantana-from-bandipur-brt-reserve/article38023556.ece