A garden a serves a man's every day need for s refreshing and pleasent experience. We have to appreciate that the garden serves as a home not only to the trees and plants that appear, but is a home to lots of small and big creatures of animal kingdom. Thus a garden is a conservatotory in these modern times of fast industrialization and increasing threat to ecological balance.
Thus a gardener has to keep in mind the need for aiding ecological balance or nature conservation when designing or planning or restructuring a garden.
In India, garderners (government and private) show a strong tendency for planting exotic species (totally foreign species or exotic to that particular microclimate, as seemingly they beleive that exotic species are attractive. Yes every thing new is attractive and indigenous species look ugly as our eyes got used to them. This tendency for exotic plants and trees either in gardening or largescale social forestry is atrocious and gives no regard for the essence of nature conservation and ecological balance that these gardens can serve for!
A indigenous plant or tree supports numerous other soil flora and fauna, birds and other animals through various ecological relations. An exotic plant or tree on the other hand, while not supporting the flora and fauna of that particular area, may actually have a deteriorating effect!
An example in India is the blunder of planting eucalyptus species for social forestry purposes. Eucalyptus has been given a great promotion by late Mr. Sanjay gandhi decades back as it seemingly required less water and grows fast, evenwhile giving some economic output in the form of timber and pulp.
Eucalyptus could have been selected for the afforestation in the areas where it is a naturally occuring species and will have some ecological relations establishes in the microclimate of that area. But planting this in areas where is is completely new.
Another grave blunder which is being practiced till day is, plantation with eucalyptus after clearing indigenous forest areas for the purpose of quarrying or mining purposes. In thiis case, the animals and other flora and fauna will be severely affected as indigenous species of that particular forest are replaced by eucalyptus and the area supporting their food and shelter requirements gets compressed and increases interspecific and intraspecific competetion. In these cases of reforesting the cleared forests, a mix of the existing species can be used for plantation. These species may not be economically rewarding like eucalyptus or grow fast as eucalyptus or any other exotic species. But they have lot of ecological significance and cannot be valued monetarily. More ideally the cleared area has to be filled in with mud from the existing forest so that the microclimate of the forest is replicated and helps the cleared area to gel uniformly in course of time.
Moreover the indigenous plants or trees survive in the natural rainfall and hence need no additional inputs.
I just gave an example of Eucalyptus, as it is widely planted in India, the similar is the case with unjudicious use of many other exotic plants.
I am not against exotic plants in general, but it has to be avoided when going for large scale plantations. In gardens they can be monitored well and can be accomodated 10 percent. Let the remaining 90% beauty be attined from indiginous species.
I request the readers not to get confused with what i mean indigenous or exotic. By indiginous i mean that belongign to a particular microclimate or small area with in a district or state or a country. By exotic we mean a plant not naturally occuring in that particular area or micro climate.
I hope that enthusiastic readers, gardeners, forestry people will further this discussion.
Ravikumar Uppaluri hails from Kaikalur, Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh State in India. The famous Kolleru bird sancturay, a fresh water lake that attracts birds from as far as siberia, is located near Kaikalur. Having spent the childhhod close to such nature rich areas, a deep interest and love for nature were inculcated right from child hood. Having done masters in agricultural science, This emotional bonding took a scientific and logical enquiry making scientifically and emotionally in sync with the cause of nature.