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Conocarpus Ban in Gujarat

Gujarat has recently taken a significant step by imposing a ban on the plantation of Conocarpus trees, also known as Saptaparni or Buttonwood trees. This decision stems from environmental and health concerns associated with these trees.

This topic of “Conocarpus Ban in Gujarat” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

What Are Conocarpus Trees?

Other Names

Conocarpus trees are also known as Saptaparni and Buttonwood.

Description

  • Evergreen Species: Conocarpus trees are characterized by their evergreen nature, retaining dark green shiny leaves throughout the year.

Characteristics

  • Invasive Species: Conocarpus trees are considered invasive species in some regions.
  • Two Species: There are two primary species of Conocarpus trees:
    • Conocarpus erectus: Widely used in India and native to South America.
    • Conocarpus lancifolius: Native to East Africa.
  • Growth Properties:
    • Rapid growth.
    • High temperature tolerance.
    • Not freshwater reliant; they can utilize drainage and sewerage waters.
    • Flower-bearing.
  • Palatability: These trees are not edible and are not preferred by wild herbivores or domestic animals.

Highlights of Gujarat’s Actions

Chopping Down Trees

Gujarat has initiated the chopping down of Conocarpus trees due to a government-imposed ban, driven by concerns related to the environment and public health.

Health Hazards

  • Pollen Allergies: Conocarpus trees are known to trigger pollen allergies, affecting individuals living near these plantations.
  • Respiratory Problems: Areas near Conocarpus plantations often report respiratory problems among residents. Similar issues have been noted in regions like Kuwait, other parts of the Middle East, and Karachi and Faizabad in Pakistan, prior to Indian greening projects.

Root System Hazards

  • Deep Roots: Conocarpus trees have deep root systems that pose a threat to infrastructure, including telecommunication lines, drainage networks, and freshwater systems.

Plantation Examples in Gujarat

  • Sabarmati Riverfront, Ahmedabad
  • Ram Van, Rajkot
  • Public Gardens: Conocarpus plantations can be found in public gardens across various Gujarat districts.
  • ‘Mission Million Trees’ in Vadodara: In 2017-18, 24,000 Conocarpus trees were planted as part of this mission, which has led to concerns about potential water scarcity risks due to the trees’ high water consumption.

Significance

Current Usage

Conocarpus trees have been widely used for large-scale sapling use in afforestation and landscaping projects across India.

Highlighted Concerns

  • Urban Landscaping Project Species Selection: The preference for exotic species like Conocarpus in urban landscaping projects raises questions about the impact on the environment and the suitability of these species for greening efforts.

Facts

Previous Bans

  • Telangana: In the past year, Telangana had also imposed a ban on Conocarpus tree plantation due to similar concerns.

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