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Saturday, July 28

Invasive plant Acacia dealbata reported from the high altitude Himalayan forest of Kedarnath wildlife Sanctuary

Indicating an early sign of proliferation of invasive species in the Himalayan forests, as expected to happen during the phenomenon of global warming, a group of researchers has reported the presence of Acacia dealbata - an invasive alien plant - from the interior of the high altitude protected area of Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary situated in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.
Acacia dealbata in bloom
Photo courtesy :Wikimedia Commons
The team has spotted the plant at an altitude of 2200 from the mean sea level, which makes it the first report of the species from such a high altitude of Garhwal Himalayas, says a research correspondence published in the Current Science Journal. It also turns out o be the first record of the species from the large protected area of Kedarnath Wildlife sanctuary.

The presence of the invasive plant can have serious impact to the Himalayan forests considering the invasive nature of the plant, says the research correspondence.

"Temperature tolerance level of some alien species is very wide, with global warming the temperature fluctuation has become wide giving these species ample scope to survive", says Jahangeer A. Bhat, Researcher in Forest Ecology at  H.N.B Garhwal University.

According to him, there is no clue on how this plant reached to this elevation. "We guess it might be  through some food source or something else", he said.

"There was no human settlement near this plant patch and neither we found this species below this elevation nor above this elevation. these plants were only present in a patch at the reported altitude", said the research team which found the plant.
Jahangeer A. Bhat, Munesh Kumar, Ajeet K. Negi and N. P. Todaria at the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar-Garhwal have reported the species, as per the correspondence published.

The plant is already declared as an invasive species in the Indian Himalayan region, while it is reported as a problem species in Portugal, northwest Spain, New Zealand, France and Italy where it is found to be replacing native plant species and taking a high toll on the biodiversity of indigenous plants.

Plants of Acacia genus have been notorious for their ability to invade native forests and replace grass lands. They are also found to increase water loss in riparian zones and thus gradually change the ecological nature of the area.

However, it is ironic that social forestry wings of many state forest departments were once encouraging planting Acacia plants in public places as part of aforestation attempts. The adverse consequences of the plant like its potential to drain up groundwater tables and to produce allergic pollens during flowering season were understood later only.

However, India is still to have a unified central policy on how to manage invasive species in its native forests.

Is there any invasive species raising threat to native plants or animals in your area? Please share us the information here.

Meanwhile, read more on IBT's coverage on invasive species in India.

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