Karnataka: Law to curtail planting of saplings that causes Eco Damage

A eucalyptus tree on Tasmanian Land Conservancy property.

  • The Karnataka government took the legislation route to curtail planting of saplings that have adverse effect on environment and ground water.
  • The Legislative Assembly on Thursday passed the Karnataka Preservation of Trees (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that provides for regulating the planting and cultivation of saplings which cause ecological damage and erode soil fertility.
  • The bill, piloted by Forest Minister Ramanath Rai, also provides for the government to regulate planting of saplings which support and hosts pests.
  • However, the bill has not named any specific species that are harmful to nature and should be banned from cultivation.
  • The state government, through a circular in 2012, had banned planting of acacia and eucalyptus as these two species caused environmental damage. However, there was no effectively implementation of the circular.

How Eucalyptus Tree causes Eco Damage

  • Eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus spp.) are native to Australia, but have adapted to climates all over the world thanks to their shallow root system, and grow in India.
  • These trees have a shallow root system, which developed as a way to survive in a harsh native environment, where accessing a limited amount of rainfall is crucial to survival. It’s this shallow root system that can make eucalyptus trees a danger.
  • About 90 percent of a eucalyptus tree’s roots grow in the top 12 inches of soil. This shallow root system grows rapidly, and along with a strong taproot, the lateral roots are vital to keeping a eucalyptus tree upright.
  • A eucalyptus tree’s taproot must grow down into the soil at least 6 feet to ensure good anchorage. The lateral roots spread out for up to 100 feet to help support the rest of the tree, and this can be an issue for nearby buildings and structures.
  • The roots and rootlets of eucalyptus trees planted in a yard can grow into ditches, clog water pipes, and crack septic tanks and cisterns. The roots of eucalyptus trees planted in an urban environment can damage sidewalks, curbs and gutters.
  • As the shallow eucalyptus roots grow and produce secondary thickening growth, they can heave up paved surfaces above and around them.
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