Indigenous tribes in southwest India have found a solution for an invasive forest weed that causes harm to native plant species, by cutting the weed down and using it to create furniture.
Lantana camara is an invasive weed that has spread through many forest ecosystems across India. It was brought into India from South America in 1809 as an ornamental shrub. It is now one of the world’s worst weeds and is a huge threat to native plants and animals.
Now local indigenous tribes in Singampathy, Sarkarporathy and Kalkotipathy are transforming the unwelcome weed into something positive by creating furniture, crafts, toys and other products using lantana wood.
The furniture looks exactly like the bamboo or cane furniture, but is more durable. The cost of lantana furniture is cheaper than bamboo furniture as the raw material is available for free.
The tribes are involved in manually cutting the lantana, and have been trained in craft skills by organisations including ATREE and The Shola Trust. It enables the tribes to earn some extra income.
The Shola Trust said: “Lantana camara is an invasive weed that is taking over numerous forests in India. The forest department has been trying to eradicate the plant for over a hundred years now in south India, but with no success, as the plant continues to spread.
“At The Shola Trust, we’ve been trying to find uses for the plant and to get local people to cut and extract the plant in the hope that this will control the plant in the forests, while also helping local communities.”
The Shola Trust are currently looking into converting lantana into briquettes to use as a sustainable energy source.
More tribes in southwest India are expected to be trained in the use of lantana wood for furniture over the coming years.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable lifestyle and living, wellbeing, and entertainments. Rosa also works as a psychic, counsellor, intuitive reader and spiritual life coach helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com