Lopping : Slowly Destroying the Ecology

Lopping is the cutting away of the branches of a tree. It’s heavily practiced by the pastoral communities of India, to the point where it has become extremely detrimental to the ecology and is killing many a tree species.

The pastoralist, with climbs a tree and starst chopping off the branches indiscriminately.

“Brutal lopping, year after year, has actually ended up preventing trees from flowering and fruiting, which leads to their premature death”, says Dr Bivash Pandav, in Sanctuary Asia magazine. Without branches, flowers and fruits, many species of insects, birds and mammals will also lose their habitat.

I was first exposed to the concept of lopping by Dr Pandav around the Rajaji National Park area. I thought it was prevalent only amongst the Gujjars of that area. But the more I travel, the more widespread I find this unsustainable practice, which is destroying crucial habitats.

“…an area roughly the size of South America is used for crop production, while even more land—7.9 to 8.9 billion acres (3.2 to 3.6 billion hectares)—is being used to raise livestock.” (Source: National Geographic). In an over populated country like India, with billions to feed, how does crop production compete with livestock, while being environementally safe as well?

Almost the entire highway from Jaipur to Sawai Madhopur had these trees lopped to doom.
Lopped trees in Jaipur city.
Lopped trees in Maharashtra.
Lopped trees near Kalsubai Harishchandragad Wildlife Sanctuary.
Notice the tree on the left. Near Kalsubai Harishchandragad Wildlife Sanctuary.
It’s sad to see a landscape full of such trees doomed to death. Lopped trees near Kalsubai Harishchandragad Wildlife Sanctuary.


Shocking fact: 40% of the earth is being used for cultivation today, compared to 7% in the 1700s. (Source: National Geographic).

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