Keystone Foundation in collaboration with Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) and World Wildlife Fund for Nature –India proposed to undertake a participatory appraisal of the status of Invasive Alien Species of the Nilgiris watershed region. Keystone with its 25-year presence in the landscape, ATREE with its technical expertise on Invasion Biology and WWF – India with its subject and landscape skills in conservation collaborated to create an ‘Atlas of the Invasives of the Nilgiris Watershed. In order to achieve this, a series of trainings will be conducted until next year.
So, as a part of this series, an introductory course was conducted from August 29th – September 1st at Keystone Field Ecology Centre – Sathyamangalam. The focus of this course was to train and guide the participants to grasp the essential facts of Invasive plants, how to recognize them, practically understand research methodologies, mapping and learning sustainable management and control techniques to eradicate such species. A total of 22 participants from different backgrounds like students, Forest personnel etc. attended the course. There were 4 resource person that were part of this training – Anita Varghese, Ph.D. and Shiny .M. Rehel, Ph.D. from Keystone Foundation, Ankila Hiremath, Ph.D. from ATREE and Samuel Thomas from WWF India.
The participants were given an introduction to Invasive species that grow in the region and how they can identify them depending on their appearance and characteristics. They were split into three groups with one instructor for each group to guide them. The groups were assigned to complete three tasks – Listing, mapping the density and interacting with the community to learn the linkages of the invasive plants with animals and the landscape. During the research phase, they were taught how to adopt an approach and frame relevant questions that will make the research constructive, and finally, how to consolidate the data obtained during the course.
There are multitudes of reasons how invasive species was introduced in India and in various parts of the world. In the Nilgiri Region, most of them were brought as ornamental plants during the British period. These invasive species have become a growing concern in the Nilgiri Biosphere that poses great threat to the local ecosystem, its functions and affects the biodiversity present in the region. Some are a major threat to the native vegetation as they proliferate, which in turn causes less fodder for the herbivores that results in loss of habitat, some are considered to have negative effect on one’s health (eg: Parthenium hysterophorus) and in some cases they are proved to cause conflicts between man and wildlife.
The idea behind this collaboration is to be able to curb the damage caused by the alien species. The second phase will be an intensive training for identifying and mapping of invasive plants will be held towards the end of September, for more updates and registration process, stay tuned with us on http://www.facebook.com/keystonefoundation.