Playing with the forest: invasive alien plants, policy and protected areas in India

Kannan, Ramesh and Shackleton, CM and Uma Shaanker, R (2013) Playing with the forest: invasive alien plants, policy and protected areas in India. Current Science, 104 (9). pp. 1159-1165. ISSN 0011-3891

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Protected areas (PAs) are inviolate and invaluable landscapes that promote the in situ conservation of endangered, threatened and rare species. Accordingly, and in keeping with this definition, PA managers ensure that PAs are free from fire, poaching, grazing, non-timber forest products collection, mining, etc. In India, following the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act (1972), there are today 102 and 515 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries respectively. Many of these have in recent decades been heavily threatened by the spread of invasive alien plant species, notable among them being Lantana and Eupatorium. These species may have usurped as yet unestimated number of native plants and fauna, besides depressing the reproduction of native plant species. In fact, it is realized that the threat to biodiversity by invasive alien species (IAS) may only be second to that of fragmentation. Yet there seems to be no major attempts to eradicate, contain or manage IAS in PAs. Ironically, the justification for the lack of action lies in the definition of PAs – that they need to be kept inviolate and therefore above any active intervention. In this article we bring home this serious contradiction in the approach to management of PAs in India and discuss the philosophical origins of this practice. We argue that if we are to protect our PAs from the serious scourge of invasive species, we would have to relook at the policy governing PA management and revise it to be more inclusive than exclusive.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Indian Academy of Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: Forest policies, invasive alien species, protected area network.
Subjects: C Publications by ATREEians > G Journal Papers
Divisions: Publications by ATREEians > Journal Papers
Depositing User: Users 103 not found.
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2016 06:31
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2016 06:31

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