Tropical Montane Grasslands (TMG)
- TMG are high elevation grasslands that form only 2% of all grasslands in the world.
- They function in regulating the global carbon cycle and serving as a source of water to downstream communities.
- In India these are found in Western Ghats.
- Shola forests are montane evergreen forests found in the highest reaches of the Western Ghats.
- These forests have different scales of patchiness; first, at a large scale Sholas are found on geographically isolated high elevation regions forming one of the “Sky-island” systems of the world. (Sky islands are isolated mountains surrounded by radically different lowland environments)
- Second, on each ‘island’ there is a matrix of natural grassland and forests. Finally, at a third scale, human habitations have fragmented forest patches on each island.
- This leaves us with a habitat that is isolated at different scales in distance (100s of kilometres to a few meters) and time (millions of years to a few decades). At present we know close to nothing about how species cope with this isolation.
- An invasive species can be any kind of living organism—an amphibian (like the cane toad), plant, insect, fish, fungus, bacteria, or even an organism’s seeds or eggs—that is not native to an ecosystem and causes harm.
- They can harm the environment, the economy, or even human health. Species that grow and reproduce quickly, and spread aggressively, with potential to cause harm, are given the label “invasive.”
Why in the news?
- A recent study has pointed that the Tropical montane grasslands in the Shola Sky Islands of the Western Ghats are being reduced by invasive species such as acacias, pines and eucalyptus.
- This has also affected the biodiversity of these grasslands.
- 23% of montane grasslands were reportedly converted into invasive exotic tree cover over a period of 44 years.
Major cause of reduction
- In India, Tropical Montane Grasslands have even been classified as wastelands in forest management plans since they are unlikely to generate revenue, contrary to the timber (even if exotic) found in forests.
- Hence, they have been neglected which has led to their destruction.
What steps have been suggested by the study?
- The study has identified grassland restoration sites using satellite images in Nilgiris, Palani Hills and Anamalai and have recommended careful removal of young and isolated exotic trees at the invasion front and restoring grasslands, instead of removing dense stands of mature invasive exotic trees.