Awareness badly needed on native plants

Fatima Peter
Sunday, 25 June 2017

Native plants are ones which occur in a particular region, ecosystem and habitat without direct or indirect human efforts. They are adapted to the local environment and are equipped to grow and live with the local climate, soil types, animals and wildlife.

Monsoon has already arrived and it is the best time to plant more trees, but the plantation done in our surroundings is not done in a scientific manner, says Mohammed Dilawar, Founder of Nature Forever Society. It is important to grow native plants in the environment as they are adapted to the local environment, climate and soil type.

According to Dilawar, there is a lack of awareness among government, forest officials and people and even many environment activists, about the importance to plant native trees in our surroundings. There are many benefits of growing native plants and one of them is they provide food in abundance to most of the insects, on which birds depend and so on in the food chain thus keep the ecosystem balanced.

“These days, random plantation is taking place, there is no scientific approach towards tree plantation. This process affects the ecological balance and results in environment loss,” Dilawar said.

For example, if the leaves of Gulmohar, which is non-native, fall on the ground, it makes the soil acidic and affects the quality of the soil. But it is planted across the streets and roads. Even birds, butterflies or insects don’t feed on non-native plants or make their nests on them, he added.

The government or forest officials, the people and even many environment activists are not aware of the importance of planting native plants. Hence, there is an urgent need for awareness among people.
The Nature Forever Society while studying the reasons for declining number of sparrows realised that sparrows are not able to feed their young ones because insects are not available in abundance. And one of the reasons for the decrease in the number of insects is that most of the insects depend on native plants for food and due to the increase in the number of non-native plants they don’t get enough food. So the food chain is disturbed.

“Also, the government plants only one type of species of plant which is not right. There is a need to plant multiple species of native plants because each plant has its own benefits for the environment and keep the ecological system balanced,” Dilawar added. Even if you go to local nurseries, native plants are not easily available and some non-native plants are given Indian names, he added.

He further said that the civic bodies should not cut banyan trees or other native trees on the roadsides but they should be transplanted. Due to advanced technology, there are 100 per cent chances of survival of these trees.

The Nature Forever Society wants to spread more awareness among masses so that native plants increase in number and keep the ecological system balanced.

What are native plants?
Native plants are ones which occur in a particular region, ecosystem and habitat without direct or indirect human efforts. They are adapted to the local environment and are equipped to grow and live with the local climate, soil types, animals and wildlife.

Grow native plants
Ficus benghalensis (banyan), Ficus religiosa (pipal), Artocarpus heterophyllus (jackfruit), Phyllanthus emblica (Indian gooseberry), Mangifera indica (mango), Aegle marmelos (bael), Azadirachta indica (neem), Mandhuca longifolia (mahua), Neolamarckia cadamba (kadamb) and Butea monosperma (flame of forest)

Benefits
- Native plants protect our natural eco-system and biodiversity
- They provide food in abundance to insects and native insects are a major food source for birds and so they keep the food chain balanced.
- Birds make nest only on native plants
- They don’t need extra pesticides or chemicals to grow
- Their water needs are more balanced

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