We recently wrote about how Simhachalam is all set out to restore greenery on its hills. But now, reports come in that the Simhachalam Devasthanam is clearing out patches of forests consisting of native species. The Devasthanam wants to clear the native species and plant exotic species in their place.
The move has received flak from botany experts, with them stating that such a move is completely wrong. The move to erase native species that have grown on the forests and hills for ages and replacing them with exotic species will leave the environs damaged. Instead, it has been advised that the local species be left alone to regenerate rather than replacing them with nursery-grown saplings.
It was observed that the native shrubs on the Simhachalam Hills were cleared out using heavy machinery and saplings planted in their place to meet the target of the Green Visakha Programme. The exotic and non-forest varieties being planted in the stead are spathodea, tabebuia, copper pod and gulmohar.
The hills of Simhachalam are actually rich in medicinal plants, medium sized shrubs and evergreen varieties. The native species found here include srigandam, banyan, alli, ankudu, fig trees, ashoka and more. There were such non-forest varieties that were introduced later on and while the damage has already been done, botany experts reportedly say such move shouldn’t be encouraged further on.
Exotic plants are usually planted as they grow faster, but allowing the native species to regenerate naturally seems to be a better course of action for the environment. The native plants grow strong and sturdy, able to withstand strong wings with their root systems binding the soil together and prevention erosion. The Andhra University’s Botany department has submitted a list of native trees that can be planted on the hills, but the Devasthanam board has added exotic plants to the list.
The Simhachalam nursery consists of around 60 varieties of plants – both native and exotic. A few ecological activists have reportedly approached the Simhachalam nursery to point out the flaw in their plan and the officials have agreed to consider their suggestion.