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Lichen smuggling destroy Assam forests
NC HILLS (GUWAHATI), AUG 2 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 2 Aug. 2009 11:40 PM IST
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After wildlife it’s now smuggling of plant life that is destroying large tracts of forest area in Assam’s North Cachar Hills. Semi evergreen forests in Assam’s NC Hills are slowly disappearing, but it is not timber smuggling that’s destroying the trees, it is the lichen trade. Lichens are algae-like natural formations that look like moss on trees. They can be scraped off but villagers actually chop off massive trees. And the statistics we got was shocking. Four to five trees produce only one kg of lichen. And one kg fetches the villagers Rs 50 to Rs 70 only. The lichen trade has become so popular that almost 25 villages depend on this moss for their livelihood. “In our village we get around Rs 60 for a kg and you need around five trees for a kilogram,” said a villager. Lichens are used for dyes, perfume and traditional medicines and has a demand in south east Asian countries. They are used for anti-biotics and anti-fungal drugs. In Japan it is used for soup and salads. Villagers also told us that it’s smuggled to neighbouring countries. “This is used for drugs and sent to foreign countries,” said a villager. Unlike other countries, Lichens in India are not protected under the Biodiversity Act but its study is very important for the ecology. In this case though the worry is that trade of lichen is destroying precious forest cover.

 
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