Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

The controversy over eucalyptus planting in Kerala | Explained


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Species in News; Eucalyptus;

Mains level: Conservation and Mitigation Strategies;

Why in the news?

The Kerala state government permitted Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC) to plant eucalyptus for financial reasons in 2024-2025. Environmentalists objected, citing forest impact and potential human-animal conflicts.

Reasons for Allowing KFDC to Plant Eucalyptus Trees:

  • Financial Sustenance: KFDC was permitted to plant eucalyptus trees to support its financial viability.
  • Existing Plantations: KFDC manages around 7,000 hectares of plantations, including eucalyptus, which contribute to its revenue generation.
  • Rotation Age: Plantations like eucalyptus have specific rotation ages for harvesting, ensuring a continuous cycle of revenue generation.

Significance of Eucalyptus

  • Timber and Fuel: Eucalyptus wood is extensively used in Australia as fuel and for building construction, fencing, and other timber applications.
  • Paper and Pulpwood: The bark of many eucalyptus species is used in papermaking and tanning, while the wood is used for pulpwood production.
  • Eucalyptus Oil: The leaves of many eucalyptus species contain aromatic oils, which are used for various purposes such as:
    • Medicinal Uses: Eucalyptus oil is used in expectorants and inhalants to relieve respiratory issues like asthma and bronchitis.
    • Insect Repellent: The oil is used as a natural insect repellent.
    • Antimicrobial Activity: Eucalyptus oil has antimicrobial properties, making it effective against bacteria and fungi

Why were environmentalists and social activists against the order?

  • Ecological Impact: Environmentalists raised concerns about the adverse effects of eucalyptus plantations on natural forests and ecosystems.
  • Human-Animal Conflicts: The proliferation of invasive species like eucalyptus was linked to increased human-wildlife conflicts, as animals ventured into human habitats in search of food due to habitat depletion.
  • Contravention of Eco-Restoration Policy: Activists argued that permitting eucalyptus plantations contradicted the state’s eco-restoration policy, which aimed to phase out exotic species and replace them with natural forests by 2024.
  • Invasive Species Management: The order was seen as undermining efforts to eradicate invasive species and mitigate their damaging effects on natural habitats and ecosystems.

Government Initiatives for Plant Conservation:

  • The National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) in India operates seed banks to conserve crop diversity and wild plant species.
  • National Afforestation Programme (NAP) has been implemented since 2000 for the afforestation of degraded forest lands. It is being implemented by the MoEFCC.


Conclusion: The controversy over eucalyptus planting in Kerala reflects the balance between financial sustainability and ecological concerns. While eucalyptus offers economic benefits, it also poses ecological risks and challenges to conservation efforts.

Mains PYQ: 

Q Examine the status of forest resources of India and its resultant impact on climate change. (UPSC IAS/2020)

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