SRINAGAR: After realising that the female poplar trees were the real threat to the Valley’s ecology and economy besides people’s health, the social forestry department (SFD) will be issuing 3.5 lakh male saplings to growers this year.
During spring, the female poplar trees release pollens that accumulate in the form of white, fluffy clouds that resemble cotton balls, a major cause of seasonal respiratory allergies.
After identifying the culprit, the divisional administration in Kashmir had ordered mass felling of the female poplar species.
SFD regional director AR Mir said the exotic poplar variety was introduced in Kashmir in the 1980s. Over the years, its population grew exponentially. However, the species created alarm with its “ecology-threatening flying cotton”. Male variants do not release seed cotton.
“There is no doubt that poplars have become a vital part of our landscape and have been behind the growth of our ply and timber sectors. But the havoc created by female poplars forced us to shift focus on safe variants,” Mir said.
Nearly all SFD nurseries in Kashmir now grow the male poplars and this year the department will be issuing 3.5 lakh saplings to the growers.
Mir said private land owners who have been the major poplar growers have approached the SFD for male variants, while claiming the department plans to enhance production of male variety in its nurseries.
Mir said that nearly all female poplars have been felled and there is need for replacing them with alternative plants, as “felling of a large number of trees is not good for the ecology of the Valley”.