THE GREEN THAT’S BAD NEWS

Ex­perts Say Mex­i­can Species New Threat Af­ter Vi­lay­ati Kikar

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY - @times­group.com

New Delhi: The Delhi Ridge which is al­ready bat­tling a for­eign in­vader from Mex­ico — a highly in­va­sive tree species called vi­lay­ati kikar (Prosopis juliflora) — may now be up against another tree from the same coun­try. Ac­cord­ing to Pradip Kr­ishen, en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist and au­thor of Trees of Delhi, the green lung of the cap­i­tal has seen an im­mense growth of sub­abul (Leu­caena leu­co­cephala), which if unchecked could lead to dis­as­ter or the Ridge.

Kr­ishen ex­plained that the tree grows in tough con­di­tions and prop­a­gates read­ily. In the past three years, it has flour­ished along­side the vi­lay­ati kikar and the two in­va­sive species threaten to take over large por­tions of the Ridge and dras­ti­cally re­duce the space for other species to sur­vive and grow.

“While the species reached Delhi in the 1970s, the spurt in its num­bers came in the past few years. Its propen­sity to spread eas­ily and quickly can prove a dis­as­ter for the Ridge and it has to be checked,” cau­tioned Kr­ishen, who up­roots all sub­abul saplings he comes across dur­ing his morn­ing walks with his dogs.

The tree ex­pert pointed out that a sim­i­lar prob­lem had oc­curred at the Delhi Golf Club, where sub­abul was planted for its fast growth, but had soon colonised a large area. “They grow quickly, and fully grown you can­not chop them down with­out the per­mis­sion of the for­est depart­ment,” Kr­ishen added.

The species was cho­sen for its farm-forestry util­ity in 1970

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