IAPs in Margalla Hills National Park

lantana.jpgThe Himalayan wildlife Foundation (HWF) is supporting Capital Development Authority (CDA) in development and management of Margalla Hills National Park. One of he principal threats to the integrity of Margalla Hills National Park is the growing presence of Invasive Alien Plant species (IAPs). IAPs are the plants that have been brought to Pakistan from other countries for their beauty, economic value or ecological purpose. Some are brought unintentionally here. Without their natural enemies, they are able to reproduce and spread prolifically.

Paper%20Mullerry.jpgThese plants mainly include the Lantana Camara shrub (Punch Phuli) and to some extent paper mulberry. Lantana is native to the United States. It’s is now a major weed in many regions of the world where it invades natural and agricultural ecosystems.

As the density of the Lantana forest increases, indigenous species richness decreases. The plants can grow individually in chunks or as dense thickets, crowding out the more desirable natural species. At one site elsewhere in the world, Lantana infestations have been so persisting that they have completely stalled the regeneration of forests for three decades. It is a fast-growing and aggressive specie that has formed wooden barriers at the base of the Margalla Hills, around Rawal Lake and along the Murree Road towards Bharako. Birds carry the seeds, which allow the plant to spread over wide areas and threaten local plant species. It has taken over a lot of natural grazing ground, threatening wildlife.

Paper Mulberry has replaced much of the vegetation around Rawal Lake and is a growing threat to the natural vegetation of the national park and other valleys between eastern Islamabad. In addition to threatening natural vegetation, it is a human health hazard. According to a report by the Pakistan Medical Research Council, about 45.5 percent of allergy patients in Islamabad were allergic to pollen from this plant. Paper Mulberry also consumes a lot of water. This decreases the water table, creating a water shortage in the city. This leads to problems, especially during the summer months when demand for water goes up.

HWF has mapped the different areas in the park that are infected with alien vegetation that threatens the integrity and survival of park. With the help and advice of international vegetation experts it was decided to develop trial experimental plots to test techniques for controlling the spread of IAPs.
If you happen to bush walk into Margalla Hills you can spot these plants on different trails easily.

What can you do?
1) Learn how to identify and control IAPs.
2) Remove IAPs when they are still small.
3) Buy only indigenous plants from nurseries.
4) Replace IAPs with local plants and trees.
5) Tell people problems caused by IAPs and how to avoid them
6) Plant more indigenous or water wise plants in your gardens.

(Note: Reposting from some of my older “guest” posts because the older ones had to be deleted as per ISB MB policy)

1 Comment so far

  1. Osman (unregistered) on November 25th, 2006 @ 2:56 am

    Please give me more information on Invasive Plant Species to osman_allergy@yahoo.com.


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