Bangladesh is waking up to the adverse impact of a non-native exotic plant species now endangering the environment and damaging indigenous plants.
On eve of World Nature Conservation Day which is being observed on Wednesday, experts say that afforestation of these plants to increase green cover in the country has harmed the soil as their leaves do not decompose easily.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sarder Nasir Uddin, principal scientific officer at the Bangladesh National Herbarium said that his organization is coordinating with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to examine alien invasive plants species and prepare a red list of 1,000 plant species.
“IUCN is still working on it and will prepare a management strategy for controlling alien invasive or exotic plant species in the country,” he said.
Former Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Ishtiaq Ahmed said the invasive plant species have taken space and land and have endangered indigenous species.
He said while some of these trees were introduced to prevent degradation of land and fix nitrogen in the soil to fertilize it, there is no need to continue them for long.
Pavel Partha, an ecology and biodiversity conservation researcher said these plants do not have any environmental benefit.
“In my research at Jahangirnagar University, I found very low growth of other small plants near akashmoni trees,” he said.
He said the government has neither prepared a list of invasive plant species nor guidelines so that people can be aware of them.
“These plants reduce the fertility capacity of the land, drying up underground water level up to 18-20 times more than any other local tree in the country. Meanwhile, those tall trees could not provide any habitat and food for birds, and animals live on trees,” he added.
Partha said the birds like owls, parrots, and some local species of insects like honey bees and ants do not prefer shelter in these exotic plants.
Further, these trees do not protect the environment from natural disasters including cyclones in coastal areas.
“These trees were planted in large numbers in northern Bangladesh including near the paddy fields, which is now causing an environmental hazard,” he added.
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