Nearly 4% (about 13 million hectares) of the India’s landmass is infested with lantana (Lantana camara) one of the world’s most invasive species which degrades the soil and inhibits growth of other vegetation. The damages from invasive species to forestry and agricultural economies are dire and in India, Lantana is a prime example. The villages surrounding the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh face serious lantana invasion, on common as well as farm lands. Now communities are reclaiming their lands by removing lantana and undertaking a phase wise restoration of their commons for improved fodder and fuel availability.
The efforts of the communities are allowing the return of native plant species leading to increased fodder availability for livestock, improved household incomes through NTFP collection and overall improvement in land productivity, both of commons and farmlands. The Foundation for Ecological Security team in Mandla aims to take this effort to the other villages lying on the fringes of Kanha National Park for reviving the lands infested by lantana, thereby not only strengthening the livelihoods of the communities but also improving the biodiversity of the region by allowing local flora and fauna to flourish.