The Forest department is paying a heavy price for growing the eucalyptus,which has been widely planted and promoted by the department for many years due to its commercial viability. Gall insects have been damaging these trees for many years now.
The attack is commonly known as blue gum gall. The menace had started from Tamil Nadu in 2004 and spread to south,central and north Gujarat over the years,experts said.
Navsari Agriculture University (NAU) admitted that there is no 100 per cent remedy for this problem.
The reason: eucalyptus is not an indigenous species and natural conditions are not suitable to sustain this plant,which is originally from
Australia. Although it has a negative impact on the environment,the tree is promoted due to its commercial utility in the production of paper and timber.
As a remedial measure,the state Forest Department has already begun a pilot project where they are replacing eucalyptus with Poplar trees.
According to Nayan Desai,Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF),Vadodara Social Forestry Circle: More than 1,500 poplar saplings have been brought to Vadodara district from Uttarakhand. This development is on a pilot basis. We will set up a nursery in Vadodara soon and Poplar saplings will be planted at Padra,Savli and Waghodia talukas of the district. Similar plantations are being done in Mehsana and Nadiad.
Chief Conservator of Forest-Social Forestry B M Srivastav said,It is a pilot project and was taken up in a few districts. We are promoting plantations in other areas too.
The Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding,Coimbatore,has taken up a pan-India research project on the issue.
Meanwhile,K Srinivas,DCF of Sabarkantha,while agreeing that there is no 100 per cent remedy from this infection,said it can be controlled. We are using combination control method,where we have mixed three chemicals and sprayed it on the trees regularly.
When asked if Poplar can be a replacement for eucalyptus,Srinivas said: Poplar is grown in areas where the land is flat,unlike Eucalyptus that can be grown anywhere. It can solve the problem to some extent.
However,it cannot be a remedial measure.
S P Saxena,NAU Forest Entomologist,said: As of now,the experts have not been able to eradicate the pests totally. It was in 2007 that gall was first reported in Gujarat near Panam Canal,Godhra.
The Gujarat State Forest Corporation has been engaged in mass cloning of eucalyptus near the Panam Canal.
He added,One can say that the matter is neglected. We started the survey and found the menace spreading in central and south Gujarat. The NAU is doing a survey on several varieties of eucalyptus infested with gall insects.