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The problem of Lantana

Once an ornamental plant, Lantana Camara has today become the worst weeds in the world. Presently Lantana camara of family Verbinaceae has become a serious problem for tropical countries, where it has invaded millions of hectares of land. It is reported that Lantana was introduced in India in 1809 (Culcutta Botanical Garden), as an ornamental plant due to its beautiful aromatic flowers. Prolific seed production and easy dispersal helped it in escaping cultivation and becoming a pest, with serious dimensions. Presently, it has spread all over the country. It gives flowers almost throughout the year. This weed is posing serious problems in plantation forestry. Chokes all other vegetation and become the dominant species.

 Lantana has become a serious problem not only in Uttarakhand  but also in many parts of the country.  Complete eradication of Lantana form every area will be herculean task. . Foresters, farmers, planners and Administrators are facing this serious problem every day. Attempts to control Lantana failed. In various countries different insects were applied on lantana but they affect of the growth in insignificant level. Control of Lantana by the use of chemical has given good results but due to poison great care is required. All measures are useless because a very large area is involved. Manual eradication, Biological control and Chemical methods are few for lantana.

Attempts have been made but the various measures to control this weed have almost failed or are not cost effective therefore none of them have become popular. Some attempt to use for medicinal purposes and some  organizations started to make use of Lantana as cheap furniture, Utility articles, Mosquito repellent & a medicine, for various cures particularly for skin related diseases. It has been said that the oil extracted from Lantana fetches a very high price. The oil can be extracted by steam distillation. In USA it is used as an anti-septic in baths and for various skin diseases. An attempt to use this weed in more effective way in our daily life may stop the Green Fire.

A case study,” Ecological Restoration of Lantana-invaded Landscape in Corbett Tiger Reserve”, talks about the problem and ecological restoration in Corbett Tiger Reserve. The abstract reads as, “Lantana (Lantana Camera), one of the world’s most troublesome invasive weeds, has become a menace in  most of the protected areas located in tropical and sub-tropical belt in India. The Lantana infested landscapes not only are improvised as habitat of wildlife but also contribute to human-wildlife conflicts owing to diminished ecosystem services. The successful eradication and restoration of two lantana infested sites in Corbett Tiger Reserve was done. “A method for eradicating Lantana was developed using knowledge about its ecology and subsequently weedfree landscape were restored to productive grasslands and mix woodlands using native species. The restoration of these areas to grassland communities has successfully prevented secondary invasion s by Lantana and other weeds and has enhanced the habitat quality for herbivorous whose populations are vital for the survival of the top carnivorous such as tiger.”

Such efforts need to be replicated to check Lantana growing unchecked in the hills. The migrations of people from village and abandoning the agricultural activities in the hills have added to the Lantana problem in the hills.

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