Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Endangered species esp. plants and animals (ii) impact of overuse of chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides, & pest controls on our lives (iii) wild-life of Pakistan and (iv) other interesting notes about the environmental issues again relevant to Pakistan.

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M Farooq
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Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by M Farooq » November 3rd, 2013, 3:27 am

Dear readers, we are starting this thread on the suggestions given by an environmentally conscious member. Although all plants are useful (I hope), but they are truly useful when they are growing endemically i.e. as grown by Mother Nature itself at a given place. We can also bring counteractive examples as well, where mass plantation of imported trees also improved the existing situation.

A recent example, for the sake of starting the discussion, is the case of Eucalyptus tree. It is a highly beneficial tree since it yields one important component of "Vicks" (recall winter is coming soon). It was mass planted in Karachi and other parts of the country everywhere thinking that it would lower the water table (level) of waterlogged areas. However it turned out otherwise. It made the land barren. Now this tree is not a common sight in Karachi.

Here is case study:
Unfriendly Tree : 1 Eucalyptus
"Land under eucalyptus plantation in the world is increasing by more than 175,000 hectares each year. No other tree in the world has been so widely promoted for its being a quick timber source. So called scientific evidence recommends it for effective control of water logging and salinity. While spectacular results have been reported regarding eucalyptus plantation, there have been some adverse opinions from indigenous peoples. Eucalyptus are usually chosen for their fast growth, but this very characteristic nullifies its significance. It consumes water resource and soil nutrients lavishly, sometimes turning the region into an arid zone. On August 10, 1983, the farmers of Baraka and Holahalli villages in Tumer district in Karnataka, India, marched en masse to the forest nursery and pulled out millions of eucalyptus seedlings, planting tamarind and mango seeds instead. According to them, eucalyptus plantation in the catchment area of the streams, feeding their agricultural lands, had made them go dry."

Please more trees that have shown adverse effect on mass plantation specifically in Pakistan.

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by KBW » November 3rd, 2013, 4:36 am

Eucalyptus is a classic example how a tree can very beneficial or may be disastrous, depends where you plant it. Eucalyptus is a medicinal tree as mentioned above and a major source of essential oil which is used in a large number of medicines and repellents. It has outstanding ability to survive in saline and water logged areas where most other trees cannot grow. However, as explained above it is a heavy feeder (all fast growing trees are heavy feeders and we should know it). It literally sucks all the moisture and nutrients from the soil and brings the water table down. Such a tree would be blessing for saline areas but a big curse for normal areas where it would bring down the water table drastically. But it is not Eucalyptus' fault if it is planted in areas with routine or low water table. Fault lies with us who made the wrong use of a very beneficial plant.

Horse is a excellent animal. Many people love horses but no matter how much you love a horse or how magnificent an animal it might be, you can't use it for house security. Even the Olympic medal winner horse would prove to be a complete failure for house security whereas a routine dog will do the job pretty well. A horse is not made for this job. Similarly, the best dog in the world would be a complete failure if we want to use it for riding. A dog is just not made for this job. These are facts of nature which we need to understand.

Everything that Almighty has produced in this world has a job to do. It is our job to find out what is the natural habit of an animal / plant and then use it accordingly.

30 years ago, we blindly started planting Eucalyptus everywhere in Pakistan. It was simply lack of knowledge and lack of awareness. And then, suddenly it dawned upon us that Eucalyptus suck all the subsoil water and we decided to eliminate it from the entire country, even from the saline and water logged areas where it was a blessing. NOT EUCALYPTUS' FAULT. POOR EUCALYPTUS. :(
Last edited by KBW on November 3rd, 2013, 4:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

M Farooq
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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by M Farooq » November 3rd, 2013, 4:50 am

Interesting example! So can we move towards lesser known unfriendly trees grown in Pakistan?

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by KBW » November 3rd, 2013, 4:51 am

Paper Mulberry is another example. Some pseudo-scholar just saw one side of its performance, ie, fast growth and planted millions of them in Islamabad. Now it's almost impossible to eliminate that plant and so many people are suffering with pollen allergies.

Elistonia is yet another example. We planted it because it's a beautiful tree, very majestic looking and quite a stable performer. However, it also sucks all the nutrients and water from the soil and literally makes the ground barren around it. Same is the case with different types of Ficus / Rubber trees. We have started bulk plantation of Ficus in our cities just because it looks beautiful. It will surely have its effects in next few years but who cares?

So what should we do? What is the guideline?

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by M Farooq » November 3rd, 2013, 5:10 am

KBW wrote:Paper Mulberry is another example. Some pseudo-scholar just saw one side of its performance, ie, fast growth and planted millions of them in Islamabad. Now it's almost impossible to eliminate that plant and so many people are suffering with pollen allergies.

Elistonia is yet another example. We planted it because it's a beautiful tree, very majestic looking and quite a stable performer. However, it also sucks all the nutrients and water from the soil and literally makes the ground barren around it. Same is the case with different types of Ficus / Rubber trees. We have started bulk plantation of Ficus in our cities just because it looks beautiful. It will surely have its effects in next few years but who cares?

So what should we do? What is the guideline?
Well these experiments sound like "failure" experiments in our country- sometimes a failure is good if a lesson is drawn from it. However how do other developed countries cope with that? They certainly have these issues where foreign plants which have become weeds. I have heard, not seen, that Neem is intentionally grown in Saudi Arabia at a mass scale. Would Neem cause the same problems? Can we add pictures of these plants one by one, whenever we discuss an unfriendly plant because new readers may not know how Alistonia looks like.

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by KBW » November 3rd, 2013, 6:15 am

Farooq sahib, answer to this lies in nature. Almighty has laid out a garden for us where we can have all the examples of what to do. We just have to observe it carefully, research it and "in there are signs of wisdom for those who believe".

When we talk of nature in Pakistan, except conifers and the like in the alpine forsests, there are hardly any evergreen trees that grow naturally in plains of Pakistan. Most of our native trees are deciduous. Why? Why the nature has deprived us of evergreen trees? Simply because they are not good for our environment. Evergreen trees are suited to tropical areas where it rains a lot, food is generally available all year round and there are no temperature extremes. They generally grow fast but do not have ability to store food because they don't need it. So they feed all year and stay green. Deciduous trees have to face temperature extremes so they shed their leaves for harsh winter months, remain almost dead for three to four months and since they get bulk of their food in a short period only, over the years they have acquired ability to store that food in their structures and use it when it is not available. Comparatively, deciduous trees are a much lesser load on the soil where they grow. But this is just one aspect, there are many more. Every deciduous tree may not be good for Pakistan. Paper mulberry is a decisduous tree afterall.

Fact is that I don't think we can just name a few trees and culminate the discussion here. Member can add more names and we can take a note of it. However, we will have to develop an understanding of the whole phenomena and our scientists have to carry out proper research on it. Unless we have a good understanding of the whole subject, it wont help much. Trees can change and will change in time. Today it is paper mulberry, tomorrow it will be some other new tree than what will we do? The answer lies in developing an understanding of the subject and NOT TO INTRODUCE ANY NON-NATIVE SPECIES without proper research.

Though home gardners are not a major contributor to the environmental degradation because they plant trees in much smaller numbers as compared to Govt departments and landscapers, still we have to be aware of the consequences. We gardners have to keep our likings under control. We simply can't afford to grow everything that we like. :)

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by M Farooq » November 3rd, 2013, 6:48 am

KBW wrote: Fact is that I don't think we can just name a few trees and culminate the discussion here. Member can add more names and we can take a note of it. However, we will have to develop an understanding of the whole phenomena and our scientists have to carry out proper research on it. Unless we have a good understanding of the whole subject, it wont help much. Trees can change and will change in time. Today it is paper mulberry, tomorrow it will be some other new tree than what will we do? The answer lies in developing an understanding of the subject and NOT TO INTRODUCE ANY NON-NATIVE SPECIES without proper research.

Though home gardners are not a major contributor to the environmental degradation because they plant trees in much smaller numbers as compared to Govt departments and landscapers, still we have to be aware of the consequences. We gardners have to keep our likings under control. We simply can't afford to grow everything that we like. :)
The above points are food-for thought for every hobbyist. I was wondering what factors developed countries keep in mind, if they ever do mass plantations? I was under the impression that Pakistan is not alone in terms of making such honest mistakes.

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by Munir » November 3rd, 2013, 9:07 am

M Farooq wrote: .........................................................................................................................................................
. .......Can we add pictures of these plants one by one, whenever we discuss an unfriendly plant because new readers may not know how Alistonia looks like.
Here are readily available Alistonia's pictures:
20130710_170048.jpg
20130710_170048.jpg (128.4 KiB) Viewed 2579 times
20130708_053245.jpg
20130708_053245.jpg (93.6 KiB) Viewed 2579 times
20130706_083554.jpg
20130706_083554.jpg (97.71 KiB) Viewed 2579 times

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by Farhan Ahmed » November 3rd, 2013, 9:18 am

Alstonia Scholaris is an endemic Tree.

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Re: Environmentally Unfriendly Trees of Pakistan

Post by mikhurram » November 3rd, 2013, 9:54 am

A very interesting & relevant post created by Farooq Sahib.

KBW sahib made a very important observation that "Eucalyptus is a classic example how a tree can very beneficial or may be disastrous, depends where you plant it." and the moral of the story is " NOT TO INTRODUCE ANY NON-NATIVE SPECIES without proper research."

A few points on Eucalyptus Tree mentioned by Zahrah Nasir shown below in italics.
"There was a time when thousands of Eucalyptus trees were planted in various African countries to help hold encroaching sand dunes at bay and to serve as an important fuel and fodder crop.

The reason that many people and organizations are now strongly against these very attractive trees and shrubs is really quite simple and basically two-fold. Number one is their unquenchable thirst for water and, number two is the incredible depths their roots will go down in search of this life-sustaining liquid straight down for up to an amazing 400 feet.

In their natural Australian bush habitat this is fine and dandy, as far as I know, but in inner city or in any builtup location this means that Eucalyptus roots can badly damage buildings and road foundations, plus play havoc with water supply pipelines, underground electricity, telephone and sewage systems.

In the plains of the Punjab Eucalyptus trees have aggravated the soil salinity situation because while trying to quench their thirst, they have assisted, along with other contributory factors, in the drastic lowering of the fresh water table and a corresponding increase in soil salinity. This has rendered thousands of acres of previously fertile agricultural land almost fit for nothing until the powers that be get around to promoting particular species of useful plants, such as Salicornia, which thrive in these otherwise adverse soil conditions.

This being the case then, you must be wondering why on earth I consider Eucalyptus an important addition to your garden. The reasons are quite simple. The plants are an extremely important source of a number of herbal remedies; they provide greenery where little else will grow; are an invaluable food source for beneficial insects such as bees.

Having said this, I am not advocating that you add to the already existing environmental mayhem by planting Eucalyptus trees and allowing them the freedom to grow as they please. They should be grown under strictly controlled conditions and monitored on a regular basis."


This article can be read at
http://archives.dawn.com/weekly/review/ ... view11.htm


WATER HYACINTHS
Though the thread specifically mention listing trees, i apologize for taking the liberty to mention shrubs and other plants. Water Hyacinth has become a global scourge. Further details can be found about this menace in the first page of the thread on "Brazilian Bees".

LANTANA CAMARA
Commonly available in nurseries this shrub is also becoming a menace. Further details can be read in the article by Zahrah Nasir listed in first page of the "Brazilian Bee's" thread.

ALSTONIA
The only plus point apart from the welcome shade canopy these trees provide during the hot summers i could think was the amazing fragrance released by the white flowers of these evergreen trees during the end months of November. That having being said, unfortunately these trees are very susceptible or prone to Mealy Bugs who start hatching eggs on these trees after flowering and crawling around months of February/March.
The menace of Mealy Bugs wasn't prevalent or much of an issue around 2 decades back.

The increase or aggravation of proliferation of Mealy Bugs may partly lie with the introduction of imported trees from the Far East. I may be wrong as this is just an assertion.

Neem Trees.
Indigenous to Indian Subcontinent, I believe they were sent from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia in the early 80's for greening of Arafat plains. It would interesting to see if any hazards have been associated with this tree.

regards,

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