Govt axing thousands of ‘female’ poplar trees

Govt axing thousands of ‘female’ poplar trees

SRINAGAR: Once propagated massively as alternative wood production source, Social Forestry Department is axing thousands of poplar trees in the Valley to counter the spread of allergic bronchitis due to its cotton like seeds.

The department has ordered weeding out of female poplar trees on massive scale, which will be followed by the other government departments and later the private growers will be given similar instructions, authorities said.
The massive onslaught on these female trees is a result of its drawback of producing an allergic cotton in the late spring that has been attributed for severe bronchial ailments among the people, while the male plant is not capable of producing this allergic cotton, thus being spared.
Divisional Forest Officer with SFD Srinagar Ishtiyaq Ahmed Tanga told Kashmir Reader that over the past three decades there have been massive plantation of poplar trees all across Kashmir valley and it still continuing as the tree not only sufficing the timber needs of the Valley and behind the surge in veneer, ply industry and fruit industry where its timber is utilized in packaging industry.
“It has been an boom for the economy in rural sector and significantly reducing the load on our forests, but this all has come with an inherent problem, with its female types have capacity to produce massive quantity of cotton that has resulted in increased allergy among the masses,” he said adding that there is now a change in government policy where in it has been suggested to cut down the female trees, with simultaneously propagating the male ones.
The government has initiated this drive and is felling the female poplar in its own stock, that in coming years will have to be flowed by others including the private growers.
According to Tenga the popularity of this tree has made the private growers to currently posses almost 90 percent of these trees and in the coming years they will also be cutting and replacing them with the male ones.
To generate this male specie, the department is now pampering the male ones to harness from them the next stock of the plants that will be distributed to people intending to grow poplars.
Poplar trees are usually planted as cuttings from older trees, a process called vegetative propagation that ensures continuity of the genetic makeup of desired clones.
Tenga said that there has to be male stock readily available as the department is focusing on the propagation hoping to achieve more than 10 lakh such plant saplings of male type in its nurseries to be introduced over the time by roping in polar nursery holders here.
In the past the department to curb the quantum of the cotton in air had asked the private growers to go for aggressive lopping to limit the production, but now we are advising them to go for the identification of the male ones among their lot.
The department is disseminating information on how to go for the identification of male poplars that can be achieved only in the first fortnight of the April.
The catkin- flowery cluster, produced by a female popular is of green color while male have a reddish hue and the identification is possible only during the spring, when the trees are in flowery season.
Ishtiyaq said that they do carry this identification on their own stock and the present cutting is being carried on last year’s identification with stress on saving the male ones.
“In our own office at Sonwar we cut down scores of trees with only four male poplar trees standing,” saying we surely need them for future male progeny.
Ishtiyaq however discarded the notion that it is only the Russian poplars that reduce cotton saying that all female popular types do produce this at their maturity.