Green Skill Development Programme on Lantana Furniture and Crafts in Maharashtra
Introducing an exotic species into a relatively foreign environment often causes problematic conditions in the said environment and the species is then defined as an Invasive Alien Species. The alien species can be an animal or a plant from a distant area anywhere in the world and does not belong to the new environment. The major pathways of introduction are by ship ballast water, accidental release, and most often by people. Invasive species can lead to the extinction of the native plants and animals, destroy the biodiversity, and permanently alter that habitat (NOAA, 2017). These species are one of the greatest threats to global biodiversity, agriculture, livelihoods, human and animal health, and forestry (Pimentel, 2011). They are capable of disturbing not merely the environment or ecology, but also the local economy (Simberloff, 2003). Hence, identifying the probable future distribution of this species is paramount and can be accomplished through early detection, prioritization of regions for conservation and effective management of invasive species (Bellard, 2013).
Lantana is a genus under the family Verbenaceae. These are shrubs that can grow within a range of 0.5–2 m height. Lantana is mostly native to subtropical and tropical American regions, but a few taxa are indigenous to tropical Asia and Africa. In India, seven or eight such species like L. camara, L. indica, L. veronicifoila and L. trifolia are reported (Rajendran& Daniel, 2002). Lantana was initially brought to India in 1807 as an ornamental plant at the National Botanical Garden (Kohli et al., 2006), and also as for ornamental hedging, to Calcutta in the early nineteenth century (Hakimuddin, 1929). Subsequently, this plant proliferated across all open areas like roadsides, railway tracks, edges of crop fields, and open forests across the country. Today, it has become completely naturalized and found throughout India.
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) observes Lantana camara as one of the world’s 100 most invasive species, and one among the 10 worst weeds in the world. Exotic plant species invasion poses a serious threat to native plant communities and ecosystems, such as population dynamics and community structure (Pimentel et al., 2001), and alters the native vegetation threatening the biodiversity (Mack et al., 2000). Habitat disturbance due to anthropogenic or environmental reasons (Heywood, 1989) modifies the microclimate, resulting in colonization of the invading species such as Lantana, particularly in the dry deciduous environment (Heirro & Callaway, 2003).
The objective of the Green Skill Development Programme is to provide training to tribal communities for creating low cost value added Lantana furniture and crafts using the invasive problematic Lantana plant. This program simultaneously creates sustainable livelihood options for the tribal community, and lead to forest and biodiversity conservation.
Twenty tribal people have been attending the (GSDP) training for furniture making from Lantana weed (natively called 'Ghaneri'). Among the attendees, three are men and the rest are women, whose details are attached with annex 1.
The Training Program
The program was inaugurated on 11th of February, 2020 by Mr.Shivaji Mahale (Panchayat Member, Duldhanwadi Village) in the presence of Mr. Babasaheb Nivrutinath Pawar (Principal, NLC), Mr. Aniket Mahulikar (General Manager, Girivanvasi Educational Trust), Mr. Valvi (Community Outreach Coordinator, NLC), Mr.Shailesh (Assistant Agricultural Instructor, NLC), and Mr. Binish M. B. (Information officer, Amrita University). Mr. Aniket explained the invasive lantana plant and its impacts followed by a video showing the success story of Lantana furniture and craft making by tribal communities in Siruvani hills, Coimbatore. Following the event, the trainees along with their trainer visited the field, where lantana is present.
GSDP Dahanu I, Inauguration
Trainees with Member of Panchayath
Introduction of the Trainer and Participants
Introduction of the Trainer and Participants
The trainees collect the lantana sticks every morning from the nearby village areas for making the products. In the first few days, they were trained on how to collect the sticks and their preparation for craft making on step by step basis. Later, the trainer taught them to create certain small handicrafts like hair combs, baskets (different sizes and shapes), pen stands and so on.
In addition, training was given on how to make the products trendy and stylish by applying varnish.
Collection of Lantana Plant
Hair Combs Made by Trainees
Pen Stands Made by Trainees
Dr. Maya Mahajan, Coordinator, ENVIS RP, Amrita University who is monitoring the training program visited the centre and gave a brief introduction about the program. She further explained the impacts of the invasive alien weed, lantana, and how this could be turned into a livelihood option. She recommended to the trainer certain fresh designs and ideas for craft making. Dr. Maya also interacted with the GSDP participants and staffs of Nareshwadi Learning Centre and collected the feedback on the training program.
The training program was completed successfully with the active participation of all the participants. The Nareshwadi Learning Centre team supervised the program while the ENVIS Amrita team regularly monitored the process. The final five days of the GSDP was scheduled for the marketing of the products and each participant was awarded a certificate from the concerned Ministry on completion of the training program.