Why Gujarat has banned Conocarpus plants?

Gujarat bans Conocarpus plants
Context : The Gujarat govt has banned the planting of ornamental Conocarpus trees in forest or non-forest areas, citing their adverse impacts on environment and human health.

Earlier, Telangana too had banned the plant species.

About Conocarpus plants 
Conocarpus is a genus of two species of flowering plants in the Combretaceae family.

One species is a widespread mangrove, and the other is restricted to a small area around the southern Red Sea coasts.

They are native to tropical regions of the world.

Two types

Conocarpus erectus, also known as buttonwood or button mangrove,

It is a mangrove shrub that grows on shorelines in tropical and subtropical regions around the world.

It is widely used in gardens, parks, and indoors.

It is a fast-growing plant that does not shed its leaves much. If pruned with skill, it can make a natural green wall.

Conocarpus lancifolius

It is a tree that is native to coastal and riverine areas of Somalia, Djibouti, and Yemen.

It is found throughout the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and South Asia.

What is the news ? Gujarat bans Conocarpus plants

The Gujarat government has banned the planting of ornamental Conocarpus trees in forest or non-forest areas. Conocarpus, a fast-growing exotic mangrove species, had been a popular choice for increasing the green cover in Gujarat in recent years.

Why Gujarat govt has banned the planting of ornamental Conocarpus trees?

Research reports have highlighted adverse impacts/ disadvantages of this species on environment and human health.

Trees of this species, flower in winter and spread pollen in nearby areas. It is learnt that this is causing diseases like cold, cough, asthma, allergy etc.

Roots of this species go deep inside the soil and develop extensively, damaging telecommunication lines, drainage lines and freshwater systems.

Also, the leaves of Conocarpus are unpalatable to plant-eating animals.

Other examples of plant species that have fallen out of favour after widespread use

Vilayati Kikar in Delhi

In 2018, the Delhi government agreed to clear the capital’s green lungs, the Central Ridge, of the Vilayati Kikar.

The Vilayati Kikar is not native to Delhi, and was brought to the city in the 1930s by the British.

As the tree grows fast even in arid conditions, it can quickly increase the green cover of an area, and be used as firewood.

However, it also kills off competition.

Thus, within a decade, it had taken over the Ridge, killing the native trees like acacia, dhak, kadamb, amaltas, flame-of-the-forest, etc.

Along with the trees disappeared the fauna — birds, butterflies, leopards, porcupines and jackals.

The tree also depletes the water table of the area it is planted in.

Eucalyptus in Kerala

In Kerala’s case too, it was the British who introduced the Eucalyptus tree to Munnar, so its wood could be used as fuel in tea plantation boilers.

The state forest department stopped the cultivation of acacia and eucalyptus in forest tracts in 2018.

A study had found that foreign invasive plants had reduced the availability of fodder in forests, forcing animals to foray into settlements and farmlands.

The quality of forest habitats had been lost due to the cultivation of alien plants such as acacia, mangium and eucalyptus in forest tracts for commercial purposes.

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