Spectrum: Crafting a weed into a wonder

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The plant that threatens to put the forest ecosystem at risk has become the primary source of our livelihood,” exclaimed Jadiyappa, who was busy scraping a Lantana camara stick with a sharp knife. A variety of furniture — stools, chairs, tables, bookshelves, sofa sets, cots — at different stages of making was scattered across the Lantana Craft Centre in Male Mahadeshwara Hills (MM Hills). Artisans of the Soliga community were shaping the plant species that has invaded much of India’s habitats into simple, elegant furniture pieces. Jadiyappa, a farm labourer turned master craftsman, echoed the feelings of several Soliga families spread across 10 hamlets in and around MM Hills. They started seeing lantana in a new light in 2004 when they got exposure to making furniture from this invasive shrub, which was introduced as an ornamental plant in India by the British in 1807. It was Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, ATREE in short, that envisioned the utility of lantana after taking a cue from one such effort in Uttarakhand. Spectrum: Crafting a weed into a wonder

thumbnail courtesy of deccanherald.com

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