Lantana camara: trainings, livelihood and management

Lantana camara: trainings, livelihood and management

Harisha R P, Siddappa Setty R, and Narayana B

Over the past few decades, researchers and forest managers have studied the distribution of Lantana camara in India and predicted areas vulnerable to its invasion, especially involving protected areas (around 13 million hectares of the country’s tiger reserves). The per sq. km cost for controlling and managing the invasive L. camara in protected areas, estimated by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 2019, was 14 lakh rupees.Many techniques have been experimented with to eradicate and control L. camara in forest areas. Also, there have been many attempts to control its invasion by utilizing the plant to make products such as briquettes, biofuel, pulp and paper. But none of the techniques or utilization models showed a significant impact on the removal, invasion and management of L. camara in protected areas owing to various reasons such as cost, practicality, lack of inclusiveness, and management efforts mismatching with ground realities. 

However, one attempt that has proved to be effective is the Lantana Craft Centre (LCC) set up by ATREE at MM Hills in 2004. It is inclusive, participatory and cost-effective, affording employment opportunities and a decent income for both men and women in rural/forested landscapes. ATREE has established decentralized craft centres across MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and trained around 400 artisans, and its researchers and design interns, along with Soliga artisans, have developed more than 86 diversified products.

ATREE has conducted Lantana crafts training for more than 400 people belonging to forest-dependent communities at 32 locations in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

Following COVID-19, the LCC has been in the frontline and recognized by the National Skill Development Commission (NSDC), Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), Forest Department, District Commissioner and Zilla Panchayat.   In September 2022, in collaboration with KVIC, Forest Department, District Commissioner and Zilla Panchayat, a Lantana craft training workshop was initiated for 300 women (10 SHGs) at Mangla village in Bandipur National Park (Figure 1 and 1a). Master craftsmen from MM Hills were involved in training artisans for three months.

Earlier, in June 2022, similar training was held at Arkadu, Annamalai and Kalkurchi forest areas in Tamil Nadu by the LCC in collaboration with NSDC, Forest Department and District Collector and the local tribal institution for tribal people (Figures 2 and 2a). In October 2022, the LCC, in collaboration with United Way Bangalore, held a 45-day Lantana craft training in Nandi Hills (Near Devanahalli) for the local community, funded by the Mercedes-Benz CSIR Fund (Figure 3).  

ATREE believes in finding local solutions to solve larger conservation issues and engaging the community in creating livelihood opportunities. The LCC is an inclusive, adaptive management strategy that sustains and operates based on needs. It is an additional source of income for the local community. The efforts have also contributed towards reducing Lantana density in the forest and enhancing native plant/fodder regeneration.

Figure 1. A Lantana craft training workshop session in progress at Mangla village in Bandipur

Figure 1a. Lantana craft training workshop being inaugurated at Mangla village in Bandipur

Figure 2. A Lantana craft training session in progress at Kalkurchi

Figure 2a. Artisans and trainers with the finished products at the
Lantana craft training site in Annamalai

Figure 3. A Lantana craft training session in progress at Nandi Hills