Lantana camara is infamous weed shrub spread to more than 50 countries as an invasive species. Lantana is a nuisance in the forest, agriculture lands and pasture lands. This rapidly growing weed is a threat to the biodiversity of any region because it grows very fast and covers open ground very quickly so it hinders the regeneration of species. Lantana often out-competes other important species, leading to a reduction in biodiversity.
Lantana has spread from its native Central and South America. Lantana also causes problems if it invades agricultural areas as a result of its toxicity to livestock as well as its ability to form dense thickets which if left unchecked can greatly reduce the productivity of farm land. Because of its thorny nature animal do not eat its leaves. Other problem with lantana is, forest gets fire or fire spread due to the wide spread of the shrubs.
A large part of Indian forest is also encroached by rapidly growing Lantana. The Government has taken several initiatives to control the Lantana infestation. Every year forest department puts significant resources in cutting and uprooting to control the rapid growth of this plant. Although, regular uprooting programme of the weed is going on but the regeneration of the weed surpasses the speed of uprooting.
In order to address the Lantana problem different measures tested. Furniture and craft making from Lantana proved one of the most successful initiatives. Furniture making helped local communities to enhance the livelihood. Villagers have given training to make crafts items and furniture from Lantana branches. Alternate use of Lantana weeds as raw material in furniture making from Lantana encourage the local communities to actively engage in cutting and cleaning of Lantana. It also helped in restoring native biological diversity in the area. Outcome of furniture making indicates; that first, it has enabled rural artisans and forest communities to earn a livelihood from a widely available weed; secondly income level has been increased and finally, the number of productive work days has increased by 40-50 percent. Now artisan groups and community members earning additional income from sell of items made-up from Lantana.
The crafts from Lantana are durable and above all it also gives a relaxed look. There is a new customer base is developing; but due to the lack of skilled carpenters; market needs are not being fulfilled. There is need to spread knowledge and skill development about furniture making from Lantana to get good results of this initiative.
- Dr Hishmi Jamil Husain
- Email: [email protected]