Japanese alpine plants threatened by invasion of dwarf bamboo species
Kyodo -- Jul 05
Alpine plants have come under threat of extinction from the sudden expansion of a species of dwarf bamboo in mountainous regions of Japan.

Due to the effects of global warming, the snow melts faster and the soil is drying up in these regions where the dwarf bamboo species Sasa kurilensis is replacing perennial alpine plants at an alarming rate, experts say.

Some mountainous areas are part of national parks with limited road access, making the cutting down of the bamboo grass both a labor- and cost-intensive exercise, causing a headache for local governments and the Environment Ministry.

In the past 30 to 40 years, the average temperature has risen at a rate of about 0.4 degree per decade, and the snow thaw has started about four days earlier per decade.

The relatively tall bamboo grass blocks the sun's rays and interferes with the photosynthesis of other plants. It also absorbs a large amount of water, drying the soil and preventing alpine plants that prefer a humid environment from living in wetland areas.

According to recent research, the same problem has been confirmed on Mt. Hakusan (2,702 meters), which straddles the border of Ishikawa and Gifu prefectures, and Mt. Hiragatake (2,141 meters), which is shared by Niigata and Gunma prefectures.

News source: Kyodo
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