Conservator of Forests, Kanara Circle, Karnataka
Eucalypt has come to stay in India. Large scale plantations have been raised in government owned and private farm lands; the planting is continuing. There is vast potential to grow the species economically on farm and waste land in suitable zones. Eucalypt meets requirements of people and industries and has helped to reduce pressure on natural forests. The uses of eucalypt are varied; people are realising this fast. The economical, social and ecological aspects of the species are receiving proper attention to understand its impact and to avoid indisriminate planting. The present studies are not conclusive, particularly in ecological aspects; further studies are indicated. Growth is varied; clonal selection, propagation and planting will improve uniform production. Government intervention in marketing is necessary to safeguard the interest of farmers.
Key words: Eucalyptus hybrid, India, plantations, utilisation, social/community forestry.
Historical background of Eucalyptus
Eucalypt has a long history in India. It was first planted around 1790 by Tippu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore, in his palace garden on Nandi hills near Bangalore. According to one version he received seed from Australia and introduced about 16 species (Shyam Sundar, 1984).
Subsequent to the planting at Nandi Hills, the next significant introduction of Eucalyptus was in the Nilgiri hills, Tamil Nadu, in 1843, and later (1856) where regular plantations of E. globulus were raised to meet the demands for firewood, from 1856 (Wilson, 1972). There were several other attempts to introduce eucalypts at various parts of the country.
It is reported during 1954-55 herbarium specimens of eucalypt trees grown at Nandi hills were sent to Australia and identified as E. camaldulensis, E. citriodora, E. crebra, E. major, E. intermedia, E. polyanthemos, E. robusta, E. tereticornis, E. tessellaris, a hybrid of E. robusta x E. tereticornis, and a hybrid of E. botryoides x E. tereticornis (Nanjundappa, 1957). The first Forest Department Eucalyptus plantation was in 1877 at Malabavi (Devarayanadurga), Tumkur District (Kadambi, 1944). Until the end of the 19th century small blocks of plantations were raised, often for experimental purposes.
PRESENT SITUATION OF EUCALYPTUS PLANTATIONS
Some 170 species, varieties and provenances of eucalypt were tried in India (Bhatia, 1984), out of which the most outstanding and favoured has been the E. hybrid, a form of E. tereticornis known as Mysore gum. The most important characteristics of E. hybrid contributing to its popularity under Indian conditions are: it is fast growing, capable of over topping weeds, coppices well, is fire hardy, browse resistant and it has the ability to adapt to a wide range of edaphoclimatic conditions (Kushalappa, 1984). Other species which are grown on plantation scale are E. grandis, E. citriodora, E. globulus, and E. camaldulensis.
Over 1,000,000 ha of eucalypt plantations have been established, mostly by State Forest Departments and Forest Development Corporations. Apart from these, around 6,000 million seedlings have been planted in private lands (Sandu, 1988). There are several reasons for raising large scale eucalypt plantations in the country; some are common and some are specific to each State. The most important common reason is to reclothe the denuded and barren hilly areas and replacing low value natural forests (FAO, 1979).
The policy of converting low value natural forests into plantations was aimed at improving productivity and to generate government revenue. Some of the States took advantage of the centrally sponsored scheme of raising fast growing species initiated during the 1960's, and raised eucalypt plantations by clear felling even the Moist Deciduous forests. Eucalypt plantations were also raised to bridge the gap between the demand and supply of pulpwood created as a result of gregarious flowering of bamboo. The pulpwood shortage created the need for quick growing species The biggest single urge to plant eucalypt in large scale plantations was provided by the demand for wood fibre for the industry (Pryor - quoted by Vandana Shiva and Bandopadhyaya, 1987). The plantation programme also aimed at correcting the vicious circle of low investment, low productivity, low incomes which has operated in Indian forestry.
The National Commission on Agriculture (1976) predicted that by the turn of the century the requirement of pulpwood in the country would be around 17 million m3 and there would be a gap of 13 million m3 and there was a great need to improve the productivity of Indian forests. The policy advocated was to move towards a more dynamic programme of converting the natural forest into plantations of fast growing species. Among other species, eucalypt species were found to be the most suitable. The Commission (1976) also recommended formation of State Forest Development Corporations to draw institutional finance to raise plantations. Almost all the States responded to this and set up the Forest Development Corporations.
Eucalypt plantations were also raised under State and centrally sponsored schemes to meet the demands of local people in respect of the requirement of firewood, small timber, poles etc. Eucalypt was also accepted as a good farm forestry species for planting on field bunds, canal sides and in marginal agricultural lands. In most States, the Forest Departments had schemes providing free supply of seedlings of various species, including eucalypt. The success of eucalypt, both for regenerating degraded forest and waste lands, made it one of the main species under Social Forestry Projects. Starting from Gujarat, almost all the States developed the Social Forestry Projects, and obtained external funding. The Karnataka State Social Forestry Project was implemented from 1983-84 with funding from the World Bank and ODA (U.K.). In the Project Report, 90% of the total seedlings to be planted were shown as eucalypt.
Most requirements of wood based industries were met from government owned forests. The State Governments had entered into long term agreements with the industries to supply raw material. The new National Forest Policy (1988) completely reversed this arrangement. Now, industries have to meet their requirements from farm forestry areas. The Government forests are to be managed for ecological purposes and to meet requirements of the local communities. With this change in policy, Eucalyptus, which has established itself as a good farm forestry species, has a high potential.
Some States have encouraged pulp and paper industries to raise their own captive plantations by leasing degraded forests and Government waste lands. The Government of India initially supported such ventures. With the new Forest Policy the industries should obtain their raw material from farm forest areas. The new Forest Policy has given a boost to farm forestry, and to eucalypts. The wood industries are encouraging farmers to raise trees in their lands by giving incentives. A number of industries have identified supply catchments around their industries; some have entered into buy back agreements after financing the activity. Some industries had initiated such support programmes even before the policy change. Some rich farmers have diverted good arable land with assured irrigation facilities, for growing eucalypt. Here, economics was the main consideration.
Most of the eucalypt plantations in India were raised during two decades between 1960 ~1980. During this period the atmosphere for planting eucalypt was congenial as the foresters, scientists and workers contributed to the concept that eucalypt is the species for planting in degraded forests, barren lands and marginal private lands. The characteristics of the eucalypt species (namely drought resistance, fast growth, fire hardiness, good coppicing vigour, capability to over top weeds, browse resistance, and the ability to adapt to wide range of edapho-climatic conditions) were mainly responsible for the positive attitude towards these species. During the 70s and early 80s, in addition to the effort of the Department to plant eucalypts in suitable sites, the Forest Development Corporations also chose eucalypts as the main species in their plantation projects. Not only due to the above characteristics, but also because the plantation projects with eucalypt as the main species were found to be economically viable on short rotation harvesting. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) which refinanced the plantation projects of the Forest Development Corporations, also preferred to finance such schemes due to these reasons.
Plantations raised in some of the important States
Andhra Pradesh: Though there were sporadic plantings of eucalypt for experimental purpose in A.P. since 1874, it was only around 1960 that regular plantations were raised; there is a large extent of eucalypt plantations. The main species raised is Eucalyptus hybrid, other species are E. camaldulensis and E. tereticornis.
Bihar: Large scale planting of eucalypt began in the State in 1962. The species planted is E. hybrid; mainly used for restocking blanks in degraded forest, planting along the road side and field bunds. The farmers prefer this species due to its fast growth.
Goa, Daman & Deu: Since 1963, some 5,000 ha of eucalypt plantations were raised in Goa, Daman and Deu to meet the shortage of fire wood. Earlier, Casuarina was tried without much success. There were no indigenous species which would grow fast, so eucalypt was chosen (Bhatti, 1972).
Gujarat: E. hybrid was introduced to Gujarat in 1961. So far over 50,000 ha of eucalypt plantations have been created by the Forest Department. This species became very popular among the farmers in the State. The Forest Department has supplied over 500 million seedlings to them. About 150,000 farmers have taken to eucalypt cultivation. Farmers have also raised their own nurseries. Richer farmers have adopted irrigated plantations on commercial scale at closer spacing. The Forest Department started irrigated planting in 1977 and 5,740 ha of irrigated woodlots have been raised in village grazing grounds vested with the Village Panchayat (a local body). Another scheme of raising 3,600 ha of irrigated plantations was also completed.
Haryana: Eucalyptus hybrid, E. citriodora, and E. crebra were introduced in Haryana State during the forties. Regular planting on a large scale commenced from 1962 onwards. To begin with, eucalypt planting was carried out on road margins, canals and railway strips; later, irrigated plantations were raised to the extent of 25,000 ha. Farmers have taken to large scale planting of Eucalyptus hybrid on their farm bunds, canal sides, and also in blocks in marginal lands.
Kerala: Over 38,000 ha of plantations of Eucalyptus grandis were raised by the Forest Department in grass lands in high rainfall ranges since 1958. Most of these plantations died due to pink disease. The effort of planting of Eucalyptus tereticornis at lower elevations for supply of pulpwood did not show much success. Therefore the project of the Forest Corporation to raise 40,000 ha of plantations was given up after planting only 5,000 ha.
Madhya Pradesh: Eucalypt was first introduced in M.P. on an experimental scale during 1965 ~66. Large scale plantations of eucalypt covering an area of 45,000 ha were raised since 1966. After 1974, eucalypt was planted only in mixtures under Social Forestry Schemes.
Maharashtra: The Forest Department started raising large scale plantations of eucalypt from 1961 onwards; over 150,000 ha of eucalypt plantations exist. The main species raised are E. hybrid and E. camaldulensis in the dry zone. In high rainfall areas Eucalyptus grandis followed by E. robusta and Eucalyptus saligna were found to be more suitable.
Punjab: Under the Social Forestry Schemes farmers were encouraged to grow Eucalyptus hybrid on boundaries of agricultural fields and on either side of irrigation channels. Planting of eucalypt is said to have changed the land use pattern in Punjab.
Tamil Nadu: Eucalyptus globulus plantations were raised in Nilgiri and Kodaikanal hills in the past to meet the firewood needs. At medium elevations Eucalyptus hybrid was raised. The total area covered is over 80,000 ha out of which 60,000 ha are with Eucalyptus hybrid.
Uttar Pradesh: Large scale planting of Eucalyptus hybrid was started in U.P. in 1962 in the Terai region with mechanisation practices. Over 100,000 ha of eucalypt plantations are planted. Farmers have also taken to planting in their lands.
West Bengal: Eucalypt plantations were raised in West Bengal since 1963 on laterite soils of South and South Western Districts. There are over 200,000 ha of eucalypt plantations.
Karnataka: Until 1987-88 some 130,000 ha of eucalypt plantations were raised by the Forest Department. Eucalyptus hybrid is also one of the species in over 443,000 ha of miscellaneous plantations raised. In addition, the Forest Plantation Corporation has raised 48,000 ha of Eucalyptus hybrid plantations. On the Farm Forestry side in three districts: Bangalore, Tumkur and Kolar, millions of seedlings have been raised and farmers are finding it economically viable to raise large scale plantations. The annual demand surveys, conducted under social forestry schemes, to assess the choice of species by the farmers indicate that the farmers prefer this species to the extent of 70% of the total requirement.
ECONOMIC ASPECTS OF EUCALYPTUS PLANTATIONS
Growing stock assessment
The growing stock and yield in eucalypt plantations varies considerably depending on the site, the edapho-climatic conditions and the inputs. The potential productivity is around 5 tons of biomass/ha/yr on an average, but the average production is some 2.5 ton/ha/yr. The average yield from the private plantations is much higher. In Kolar District, Karnataka, the average productivity is around 5 ton/ha/yr. The yield recorded from Government plantations so far is still less. This is due to the increased removal by the people for their bonafide use at regular intervals.
One of the problems in the developing countries is to protect managed existing natural forests required for ecological purposes. The natural forests are in danger of depletion largely on account of firewood needs of the ever growing population. There is a wide gap between demand and supply of firewood. If the deficit is not made up there will be further loss of natural tree cover. There is the immediate need to plant fast growing species to bridge the gap between demand and supply of firewood. The social cost of allowing poor people to cut the existing natural forests for firewood will be very high. Eucalypts being versatile species have come to the rescue of countries facing this dilemma. The question of profitability of growing eucalypt needs to be looked from this angle, and the social cost if any, on growing eucalypt, should be off set against the social cost of allowing people to cut the natural forest, to obtain their bonafide requirements.
Eucalyptus species are not consistent in their growth and the variation is considerable depending upon the conditions under which they are grown. Therefore depending upon the site, selection of species and their provenances the actual yields have varied considerably.
The economics of eucalypt plantations varies depending upon the use to which it is put. In a country like India where firewood is the main source of energy, whether it is eucalypt or any other species, there is no better economic return - as the wood is burnt. This situation may not change in the near future. There is no possibility of the Government agencies making available alternate energy sources to villagers, who account for 74% of the countrys population. In fact, in India, almost 85% of the wood produced ends up as firewood and, also in the vast majority of cases, people are not in a position to pay for it. In Karnataka, the lops and tops from eucalypt plantations are available to the local villagers for bonafide use, free of cost. It has been estimated that the lops and tops form 30% of the above ground biomass in eucalypt plantations. The eucalypt wood which is marketed is used either as firewood or as pulpwood by the paper and rayon industries.
The maximum value for eucalypt wood is as pulpwood. The Farm Forestry sector annually extracts and sells 150,000 tonnes of pulpwood, to the industries. Farmers sell the lops and tops to secondary industries as brick and tile manufacturing units, after reserving the quantity required for domestic use. Eucalypt timber is also used as poles for scaffolding, transmission lines and in construction. The price obtained here is higher than as firewood. Lately, eucalypt wood has been tried as timber for constructional purpose and for furniture making. Compared to secondary hardwood species, it is cheaper. Eucalypt plantations raised on a shorter rotation for production of pulpwood give maximum returns. Mechanised eucalypt plantations raised for industrial use in Uttar Pradesh gave IRR ranging between 29.2 to 49.12 for 8 to 10 year age. Under agroforestry conditions, block plantations of eucalypt gave IRR of 49 to 62.5 % at 8 years, and for bund planting the B.C. Ratio was 1:1.55 and 1:2.27 at 8 years of age (Mathur, Sagar, Ansari, 1984).
SOCIAL ASPECTS OF EUCALYPTUS PLANTATIONS
In India, due to population increase, tremendous pressure has been exerted on natural forests for its clearance for extension of agriculture as well as for collection of firewood. These are the main reasons for ecological degradation. Today there is enough food for people; thanks to the green revolution, but there is not sufficient wood to cook it. In addition to removal of trees for firewood from the Government forests, people lately have been cutting down usufruct yielding trees in their farm lands for immediate gain, taking advantage of the shortage of firewood and its remunerative price. It is against this background that Government sponsored programmes to plant the available degraded forests and other waste lands with fast growing species came into being. The most successful species with wide range of adaption was Eucalyptus hybrid. No indigenous species could compete with it due to its versatile qualities. There was sizeable demand for pulpwood in the country which was being met by imports. This also was one of the considerations for growing eucalypt which would yield high quality pulpwood.
In a free market economy the producer aims at obtaining the maximum price for his commodity and the social aspect of the transaction is secondary to him. As long as there is demand for pulpwood in the country eucalypt wood may find its way to the pulp industries due to higher price preference as compared to firewood, poles or timber. Any effort to prevent this would affect the earnings of the farmer. The charge that the eucalypt wood from the Government owned plantations was also diverted to the industries was true to a certain extent, but up to a point. In Karnataka all the Departmentally raised plantations are now reserved for supply of firewood, poles, and timber to the people. Only the plantations raised by the State Forest Development Corporation, funded by institutional finance, are to some extent taking care of the industrial needs. Even from such plantations raised by the Corporation and the captive plantations of the Mysore Paper Mills (a State Government enterprise) the State is getting 12.5% of the produce as lease rent which is being distributed to the people in the form of firewood, poles, etc.
The bulk of the requirement of the industries is met from farm forestry areas. Once the requirement of the industries is met the produce will be freely available in the market. At this stage Government intervention may be required to see that there is market for the produce and the farmer gets a remunerative price. In Punjab and Haryana where large scale eucalypt plantations have been raised on farm lands, demand for eucalypt wood has fallen steeply due to a slump in the market during the last few years. Under such a situation, taking into consideration the production potential the Government should encourage setting up of wood based industries, treating the area as a catchment supply area for industrial raw material. The Government should also intervene to find proper markets within or outside India for any excess material, to see that the farmer is not put to loss, and his interest in plantation activity is sustained.
A study in part of Kolar District where farm forestry had been practiced with eucalypt as the main species has shown that planting of eucalypt has not only created substantial employment opportunities for the local people due to setting up of a number of tile and brick manufacturing industries using clay and firewood. It also showed the standard of living of the people in the area improved (Venugopal, 1988). Here a point to be noted is that eucalypt planting was taken up in marginal agricultural and barren lands. It is also notable in Kolar that some of the farmers who have put a large extent of agricultural land under eucalypt cultivation have come back to agriculture in a big way. They are cultivating vegetables and grape after investing in bore wells and other inputs out of the income generated from the sale of eucalypt wood. Some of the farmers who have put a portion of their land under eucalypt cultivation are now in a position to invest more on their agricultural lands, and they are now practising intensive agriculture with better inputs resulting in better income.
The annual area planted under eucalypt in Gujarat, U.P., Punjab, Haryana and Karnataka has considerably reduced over the years. This is not because of any ecological reasons but due to the disenchantment of the farmers, as they were not able to get their expected price. Wherever the spacing has been wider and the rotation is more than 9 years to produce larger material, the plantations are economical. In West Bengal and Karnataka, the prices are remunerative due to demand from pulpwood industries. Also in West Bengal, group farming has helped the growers to obtain reasonable prices. In Maharashtra, Cooperatives are formed not only to raise plantations collectively with proper inputs, but also to ensure remunerative market for the produce.
Views of farmers, NGOs and others
The success of eucalypt planting in Government land attracted farmers to this species. During the 70s and 80s, along with the large scale planting of eucalypt in Government lands, the country experienced a large scale eucalypt planting in farm lands, particularly along the farm bunds, irrigation channels and as block plantations. Gujarat, which initiated social forestry also, took the lead in this direction and was followed by Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, U.P. and other States. Further, farmers went ahead in States as Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab to raise irrigated plantations and the concept of high density plantations evolved as a suitable alternative to agricultural crops (although it has not succeeded much).
In Karnataka, in the districts of Kolar, Tumkur and Bangalore, eucalypt replaced Casuarina plantations during 50s due to the failure of Casuarina plantations in a large areas due to a fungal disease. Farmers preferred to continue planting eucalypt, because of its qualities, particularly that of coppicing even though as firewood and poles, Casuarina has an edge over eucalypt.
A study on the social, economic and ecological impact of social forestry in Kolar District focussed on the impact of large scale planting of eucalypt (Vandana, Shiva and Bandopadhyaya, 1981). This study raised the controversy regarding the effects of planting of eucalypt in Kolar, without bringing out the good that plantings had done. The Forest Department did not accept the findings of the study and its conclusions. This triggered off a controversy on eucalypt which spread to other parts of India, and generated interest among environmentalists, scientists, sociologists, economists and others. The farmers, who were raising the species without hesitation in their marginal lands, took note of the controversy and wanted that the Government should clear doubts about the species. The issue was raised in the Karnataka Legislature on several occasions. The Karnataka Government was concerned in this matter and discussed it in its Economic and Planning Council, the highest advisory body for Policy and Development in the State. A panel discussion was also held under the auspices of the Economic and Planning Council with participants from most of the relevant sections of the community.
The Rytha Sangha (a political party) of the State of Karnataka took keen interest in the subject. As part of propaganda against eucalypt, it organised demonstrations against planting of eucalypt. In few cases they even pulled out seedlings in the nurseries and in a few plantations as a mark of protest against eucalypts. Workshops and seminars were conducted over the country to discuss the merits and demerits of eucalypt planting.
The subject of planting eucalypt in India was also discussed in the Planning Commission. The main findings of the panel discussion organised by the Economic and Planing Council and of various other bodies are that, there is no conclusive evidence to show that eucalypt planting is harmful if planted in areas suitable for the same, with proper cultural operations. Allegations against Eucalyptus that it is ecologically, socially and economically unsuitable to Indian conditions are exaggerations. However, the consensus of opinion was that the species should not be planted indiscriminately and further research should be conducted to determine the correct position with regard to the ecological, social and economical impact of planting of eucalypts in different edapho-climatic zones.
The eucalypt controversy has had its effect on the planting programme in Government lands as well as in private lands all over the country. The Forest Departments, the Forest Corporations and farmers had a second look at the species. The percentage of eucalypt in the Departmental planting also came down. The farmers wanted to have a clear cut idea of the species and its impact on their lands. The earlier enthusiasm of the farmers was diminished and it drastically affected the farm forestry programme.
While the farmer took his own decision about planting of eucalypt based on his own judgement about the species and its effect, the Central and State Governments took certain policy decisions regarding planting of the species in the country. The first was the decision of the Karnataka State Government in 1984 to ban planting of eucalypt in areas receiving a rainfall of 750 mm and above. This was because of fungal disease affecting Eucalyptus hybrid in heavy rainfall areas. The State Government also removed eucalypt from the list of species to be planted under various rural development schemes sponsored by the Government of India. The National Forest Policy of 1988 provides that no plantations of exotic species can be taken up without the species being tested on an experimental basis. If no ill effects are noted, only then are large scale plantations permitted. Eucalypt being an exotic species is covered under the above policy statement of the Government of India. The Karnataka Government brought out an order during 1990 to restrict the planting of eucalypt in the State, permitting it to be raised only in areas receiving a rainfall of between 500 mm and 750 mm. Planting is further restricted to degraded Reserved Forest and waste lands, which are barren, and that along with eucalypt a good proportion of indigenous species be mixed.
The controversy which also seem to have occurred in other part of the world led FAO to undertake a study on the subject to answer some of the doubts raised for the benefit of the countries which were involved in planting of eucalypt (Poore and Fries, 1985). The eucalypt controversy has died down considerably. Whatever is said and done, the controversy has affected the planting programme both by the Government agencies and farmers. It has opened avenues for studies on ecological, economic, hydrological and sociological aspects. The controversy has also helped the State to have a fresh look at the species to make it more area specific, rather that plant it in all kind of lands irrespective of its suitability.
ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF EUCALYPTUS
Large scale planting of eucalypt has caused concern to many people as they thought it would have adverse environmental impacts particularly in relation to nutrient depletion and high water use. A number of studies have been undertaken in various sites on the water use of eucalypt but none of the findings are conclusive. The recent findings of the collaborative research taken up between KFD, the Institute of Hydrology (UK) and the Mysore Paper Mills are interesting. The studies were carried out in areas receiving 800 mm average annual rainfall. The three principal sites Devabal and Puradal (Shimoga) and Hosakote (Bangalore) were selected (Calder, 1991). The summary of the findings are:
At the Puradal site, the water use by young eucalypt plantation was no greater than that of the indigenous Dry Deciduous forest;
At both Puradal and Devabal sites, annual water use of eucalypt and indigenous forest was equal to the annual rainfall (within the experimental measurement uncertainty of about 10%);
At all sites, the water use of forests was higher than from agriculture crops (about 2 times higher than from Ragi - a small millet);
At the Hosakote site, there are indications that water use over three dry years of measurement was greater than the rainfall. (Model estimates of evaporation was 3,400 mm as compared 2,100 mm of rainfall.); and
At none of the sites was there any indication of roots taking water directly from the water table.
The findings of the Hosakote site was received with considerable concern and a high priority was given to confirming these results and also to determining the source of this extra water. It was agreed that further measurement over a longer time period which also include years with higher than average rain fall, should be recorded. From the above, it is seen that any study on the ecological aspects of eucalypt planting should be area specific, and generalisation in this aspect may not hold true.
Nutrient use aspect
One of the allegations levelled against eucalypt is that it depletes the soil rendering it unfit for any future productive use. There are several studies on this aspect. Kushalappa (1985) analysed the nutrient status of 12 year old Eucalyptus tereticornis plantations near Biangular. According to the study, the nutrient inputs to the soil through weathering of the parent rock, litter, rainwater, and root mortality were greater than its outputs due to harvesting. George (1986) concluded that the organic matter and exchangeable potassium are depleted in the soil under eucalypt plantation than in wood lands, but no difference in calcium and magnesium was observed.
Studies conducted in Eucalyptus hybrid plantations show that substantial amounts of nutrients are inputs to the soil through litter fall, stem flow, and throughfall (George, 1978, 1979 and 1982). Input of various nutrients by way of geochemical cycle and other means as biological fixation of nitrogen and gains of nitrogen from atmosphere which are active in tropical areas, along with biological cycle, would compensate any loss of nutrients by wood harvesting. However, the results of the studies are also a pointer that some safeguards in terms of fertilisation may be necessary to maintain the yield from second and subsequent rotations.
Eucalyptus plantations are economically grown in monoculture. In India, until the later part of 1980s due to the Government policy to convert degraded natural forests into productive plantations, large areas of natural forests with miscellaneous species were cleared for planting eucalypts in monoculture. This trend is completely reversed now and the present policy is not to clear any natural forests for plantations. In established eucalypt plantations raised in the high rainfall zone in the past, indigenous species are allowed to come up after harvesting. In Karnataka where eucalypt was mixed with teak in plantations after clear felling moist deciduous forests, teak is allowed to grow along with the miscellaneous species which have come up from the root stock. At present, plantations of eucalypt are only taken up in barren areas of the dry zone.
There is an impression that eucalypt and wildlife do not go together. While it is true that the natural forest is a better habitat for wildlife, eucalypt plantations also support wildlife. Birds which are adaptable still harbour in eucalypt plantations. One example of Karnataka will indicate that eucalypt plantations are not as sterile and unsuitable for wildlife as they have been considered to be. The habitat of the Black buck in Ranebennur, Karnataka is eucalypt plantation with sparse and bushy undergrowth. The habitat for Black buck requires open, Savanah areas. Since eucalypt plantations were raised in Ranebennur during the 60s, the Black buck population (which was scattered in small pockets due to loss of habitat) came to this newly created habitat of eucalypt plantations. The population has steadily increased, from nearly 900 around 1960 to over 3,000 during mid 80s, and it seems to have stabilized at that. The eucalypt plantation in Ranebennur is also the habitat of the Great Indian Bustard which is an endangered species. There is a need to study the adaptability of animals and birds to the new habitats created by these plantations.
UTILISATION OF EUCALYPTUS
Fuel: Eucalypt was not considered a good firewood and timber species. This is being disproved. Due to the shortage of miscellaneous species, people have found that eucalypt is a very good substitute for firewood because of its calorific value and moderate burning qualities. In firewood depots in semi urban and urban areas it is finding preference over other species. In Mysore in Karnataka two decades ago the only firewood was that of Anogeissus latifolia which is one of the important fuelwood species found in the natural forests. The Forest Department raised captive plantations of eucalypt catering to the needs of the city in view of the dwindling natural resources. Today 90% of the firewood used in Mysore is from eucalypt. In the rural area, the lops and tops (at times even leaves alone) are used by the people as fuel.
Charcoal: Eucalypt gives good charcoal. Wherever farm forestry has flourished, eucalypt wood is used for charcoal manufacture to meet the semi urban and urban demand.
Poles: Eucalypt poles are good for transmission purposes and are also used in construction of dwelling houses, work sheds and in mines. Eucalypt poles have good demand near cities for use as scaffolding material. Eucalypt sold in the form of poles have price preference over firewood.
Timber: Earlier, eucalypt wood was not considered a good timber. The quality of the timber depends upon the species and edapho-climatic factors. Considering the cost of eucalypt timber, it is found to be quite economical to use in low cost houses; as mine timber and in other construction purposes. It is also being used as furniture wood.
Rural small scale industries: Rural small scale industries are developing fast in the country-side, important ones among them being brick making, jaggery making, pottery, tile manufacturing, lime production, dyeing, smithy, etc. All these industries require firewood or charcoal, provided by eucalypt plantations. They earlier depended on firewood from natural forests, which is no longer available. In a few locations, because of the plantations, industries have flourished eg the Kolar District of Karnataka.
Honey and oil: Several eucalypt species are rich in nectar and pollen. Bee keeping is profitable and this activity is improving. Leaves of Eucalyptus globulus and E. citriodora are used for extraction of oil. It is a cottage industry providing employment in some parts of India.
Paper and pulp: One of the most important uses of eucalypt wood so far has been in the paper and pulp industry. The demand for paper and pulp is going to increase many fold in India and eucalypt, being one of the good pulpwood materials, will be in continuing demand.
Eucalyptus tereticornis and Eucalyptus hybrid are the two most widely planted eucalypts in India. The species have spread to most parts of the country, primarily because of their versatile nature and its amenability for harvesting in short rotations. Despite the unclear situation regarding requirement of water, particularly in the semiarid areas, eucalypt has commercial acceptability, and is being grown for various purposes.
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