Alien species pose threat to Kashmir’s ecosystem

By Mehak, Shaista,Tehreem and Fahad

The pristine environment of Kashmir is facing an unprecedented threat from invasive alien species that have spread throughout the region and are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem.

Native plants in Kashmir valley are being displaced and outcompeted by an alien species that is spreading quickly. The alien species is known to be a kind of plant that originated outside including North America, Africa etc.

Dr. Manzoor Ahmad Shah, a leading botanist based in Srinagar, explains: “The ecosystem’s natural order is being disrupted by these alien species. Native biodiversity declines as a result of their frequent out competition for resources by the nearby flora and wildlife. From soil health to water quality, this can have a domino impact on the ecosystem as a whole.”

Wherever these plants invade they form complete monotonous mates. They drive out all native species they reduce biodiversity. According to preliminary research, it’s possible that these invaders were unintentionally brought by human activities like trade or tourism.

Shah says, a few alien species tend to be aggressive for agricultural resources, which is impacting local farmers as well. Residents are continuously being urged by the authorities to report any sightings of strange plants or animals and to take care not to unintentionally facilitate the spread of these invaders.

The water hyacinth, a rapidly expanding aquatic plant originating to South America, is one of the main offenders endangering Kashmir’s ecology. Its introduction to the region’s water bodies, including Dal Lake, has led to a dramatic increase in coverage, clogging waterways and disrupting the habitats of  native aquatic species.

In Dachigam, we found 56 alien plant species belonging to 26 families. The Rosaceae, the rose family is a medium-sized family of flowering plants that includes 4,828 known species in 91 genera was found to be the most dominant family with alien species followed by the Asteracea. The Asteracea often known as the sunflower family not only has the second highest number of alien species, but it also has a relatively high number of invasive species, with seven out of every eight species becoming invasive, Shah said

Know more about the alien species found at Dachigam

Additionally, local populations have grown more conscious of the problem, and grassroots initiatives to preserve Kashmir’s distinctive ecosystems are starting to take shape. The battle against these invisible invaders must include community involvement, education initiatives, and campaigns raising awareness of conservation issues, said Shah.

Dr. Manzoor Ahmad Shah, explaining the behavior of Alien species.

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