Developing alternative uses of Lantana and its ecological impact in Malai Mahadeswara Wildlife Sanctuary (MM Hills)
Siddappa Setty R.
This project involves working with the forest communities to utilise Lantana so that the net ecological costs of the invasive weed to the ecosystem can be reduced. This work utilising Lantana is an exploration of an inclusive approach that compares the costs of purging the ecosystem of an established weed with the benefits of managing the cost of invasion by employing the invasive in useful ways. The density of Lantana in MM Hills has significantly reduced in the past 18 years. Our recent post-harvest impact studies show that the artisans have to travel a greater distance, from 2 km in 2004 to 6 km in 2022, to collect Lantana sticks from the forest. Additionally, there has been an increase in the native plant diversity and a reduction in the frequency of high-intensity forest fires. The study also indicates that another invasive plant, Senna spectabilis, competes with Lantana, occupying open places in the forest. This initiative of harvesting Lantana to be used has changed ecological resource availability and contributed to the livelihoods of the local community.