Forestry for kids: Saving Deodar and Oak forest from invasive vines

Vines and climbers are certain plant species which climb by tendrils or hooks or aerial roots or twining or creeps on the ground. Besides being ornamental, these vines are a component of the biodiversity and help sequester Carbon. But it is observed that few of the climbers, act as semi-parasites on the plants they cling to. Almost all climbers which attach themselves to other plants for support only, may even kill the supporting plants by strangling them or blocking out light. These vines are slowly becoming invasive in the hillslopes of Mussoorie, Landour.

The forest patches of mixed Oak – Rhododendron – Deodar and Pine in the hillslopes of Landour, Mussoorie are under the attack of such vines which are slowly becoming invasive.

The fast growing vines take support of the trees, which gradually spread along the tree trunk slowly traversing towards tree canopy. They sometimes prevent sunlight to reach the leaves of the tree creating competition for getting necessary nutrients and liquids.

Eventually, when left uncontrolled and unhindered, these vines can fully conceal a tree’s trunk and its branches. The thick layer of the leaves of the vines conceals the cankers or any other tree diseases, paving way for pathogens to attack the trees. The restricted exposure to cleanse air promotes growth of pathogenic fungi, which may ultimately result in tree infection gradually affecting forest health.

The global climatic changes have triggered the fast growth of these vines and foresters are in dilemma whether or not to control the spread of vines. Many foresters and environmentalists are in support of protecting the majestic trees from these semi parasitic climbers and vines. HFRI former director, called for a pragmatic approach to deal with the issue. He added that, the climbers growing and spreading faster than the trees was not a healthy situation. A rational policy should be adopted to serve the twin purpose of protecting the already- threatened trees and conserving the biodiversity. I too believe it is very important to eliminate such plants which are unwanted or weeds which are affecting the health of the trees. The common vines on the Oak and Deodar trees are Hedera helix or the common ivy, Vitis sp. (*elimination doesn’t mean completely wiping out the species from natural habitat but controlling overspread of the vines and climbers which is harmful for the forests).

How can children help manage forests?Involving children in forest management related activities not only engages children in meaningful action in the face of social isolation and climate crisis but also creating healthy ecosystems. When children practically experience hands-on forest/outdoor related activities, they experience a deeper connection with the very basic elements of life. It further aids towards the development of their psychosocial-emotional, rational as well logical application of concepts in field situation. In one instance, the children helped to remove the excess vines on the trees with the help of pruners. The vines were left to dry slowly on the trees. As the forest becomes healthier, so does the ecosystem within it. Healthy, strong trees attract diverse wildlife, which makes the forest to be even healthier. Effective forest management truly improves the environment for both flora and fauna.

Thank you !!

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© 2022–2023

Published by Dr. Chandrima Debi

Hi, I am Chandrima Debi. I am a Doctorate in Forestry and an independent researcher. Ever since childhood, I experienced deep-rooted connection with nature, forest and wildlife. I have written various research articles, case studies based on geology, forests, medicinal plants, biodiversity and conservation. Through this blog I share my experiences with nature and forests around us and aid towards the protection and conservation of biodiversity, wildlife and the values associated.

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