How to save Banni Grasslandsfrom invasive species? Here’s what a new study suggests

Source: Down to Earth

Relevance: To analyze the findings of the report by ATREE to study the impact on Banni grasslands.


A study by ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology & Environment) & Sahjeevan (Volunteer Organisation) to study the impact of Prosopis Juliflora on Banni Grasslands


Prosopis Juliflora, a non-native tree species, has encroached over half of Banni Grasslands. Although it is harmful to ecology, locals are dependent on it for livelihood, mainly for Charcoal

When Prosopis Juliflora was introduced in India? 

Prosopis was introduced into India’s arid landscapes in the late 19th century owing to misplaced beliefs that deserts and grasslands were wastelands and hence needed trees.

  • For Fuelwood availability
  • And to keep salt flats of Rann of kachchh in check
The threat of Prosopis Juliflora:
  • It depletes Groundwater
  • Increase soil salinity
  • More susceptible to wildfire
  • Threat to the habitat of various wildlife, mainly Desert Fox, Houbara Bustard, Spiny Tailed Lizard
Adaptation by local communities:

Many of the communities have shifted from Kankrej cows to Buffaloes as they cannot digest Prosopis pods

  • Although the main source of livelihood is still Animal Husbandry, people started to make charcoal as an alternative source of livelihood, especially during drought years.

How Grasslands can be managed: Two methods can be used here

  1. Mechanical: Use of machines and tractors to remove trees
  2. Loping: Use of machetes to uproot trees that are 10-20 centimetres above the soil level.

Findings of ATREE study:

  • For Small Scale restoration–Mechanical removal will be best suited as it can help to increase the diversity of grasslands
  • For Large Scale Restoration—The mechanical process will be expensive & there is a need to study the impact on local livelihoods as charcoal making is a major source of alternative livelihood

Way Ahead:

  • Focusing on ecology alone and ignoring the dynamics of local communities would not be wise.
  • The needs of local communities should also be incorporated in the solution.

Terms to Know:

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