Fast spread of an invasive plant species has put biodiversity cover in Vindhya Range under threat, says a study conducted by a team under BHU professor AS Raghubanshi, a professor of Environmental Science at department of Botany. Alien invasive woody shrub Lantana camara has caused fast depletion of many indigenous species of plants in the tropical dry deciduous forest.
An invasive plant species (also called non-native) adversely affects the and it dominates.
The study, conducted in 2002 and 2003 and the findings of which were reported in 2007-08, has revealed that as many as 23 of the 38 plant species on which the study was conducted are fast declining at different levels of lantana invasion.
The findings suggest that many plant species whose population is under threat due to the lantana invasion are key medicinal and aromatic plants and play vital role in management of diseases spanning from skin disorders, gastro diseases to filarial and wound healing. The species whose population was particularly found to be under threat due to the lantana invasion include Australian Babool, Haldu/Karam, Salai, Khaja, Priyal, Amaltas, Mamar, Aonla, Dheriya, Parsiddha, Gigan, Kari, Gurahi, Kusum and Ghantha.
Out of these, Khair is helpful in management of skin disorders, Salai is a natural pain killer, Priyal aids management of blood dysentery, while Amaltas works vitally in dealing with gastric problems.
Sal/Sakhu plays a critical role in managing filaria, while Asan/Saja is an effective wound healer and also works in skin disorders.
Raghubanshi told HT on Thursday that the study was conducted in terms of plant species census in two consecutive years in the Vidhyan plateau and covered 38 species.
Twenty-three species showed declining population of local plant species at different levels of lantana invasion. The proportion of declining species population was maximum at medium lantana invasion than at high lantana invasion and minimal at low lantana invasion. However, total number of species decreased with increasing lantana cover.
Raghubanshi further said the study suggested that not only many species of the tropical dry deciduous forest had small local population, but also several of them exhibited declining or even severely depleting population at different levels of lantana invasion.
The study concluded that presence of lantana shrub as dense understorey perturbed the seedling recruitment of the native tree species in the forest that led to differential depletion of native trees.
The study's findings call for immediate conservation activity to protect the economically and medically viable local plant species from an imminent extinction from the Vindhya region in future.