Phytoremediation : A sustainable approach for ecosystem restoration

Phytoremediation is a technique by which toxic or harmful contaminants are bioaccumulated by the plants or trees by their internal metabolism. This technique, when used to treat land and water systems, is called phytoremediation. This technique is used by various institutions to treat water and land bodies that are degraded because of human activities.

Chernobyl is a place in Ukraine where a tragic Nuclear Disaster took place in 1986. Which transformed the place into an isolated wasteland with radioactivity. After decades of extensive plantation in Chernobyl, the place is totally transformed. Plants and trees which help in phytoremediation were planted in the area and the project turns out to be a total success. The Chernobyl we see now is a result of extensive phytoremediation in that place. Like Chernobyl, there are many other places where phytoremediation is being used for restoration.

A point to note is not all plants are made for phytoremediation. Some plants which are used for this purpose are duckweed, sunflowers, Four o’clock, Pteris vittata, barley, hemp, Paulownia, etc. The list goes on. Research is going on every day for the discovery of more such plants which can help in phytoremediation.

Advantages of phytoremediation are that the process helps in the elimination of toxic elements, a natural and a sustainable way for ecosystem restoration, improves the fertility of soil also the place where the technique is being applied not only becomes greener but also becomes aesthetically pleasing.

With advantages come disadvantages and they are time-based process and needs many years for the result, the specific plant has to be chosen for a specific area and its need, foraging of animals has to be restricted at any cost because the plants and tree uptakes toxic element and if other animals consume the plants or trees, it may cause toxicity to the animal as well.

Reiterating, I think phytoremediation is one of the excellent techniques for ecosystem restoration sustainably.