Thursday 23 March 2017 News Updated at 12:03 AM IST
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Sowing seeds of future - Deccan Herald
Sowing seeds of future
Rajitha Menon, March 18, 2017, DHNS
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Volunteers at a tree plantation drive conducted by 'SayTrees' in the city.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now’ - considering the increasing ferocity with which the green cover is being targeted, this is certainly true for Bengaluru.

While many trees are axed for construction and so-called developmental works, others fall prey to acid attacks and poisoning so that they don’t obstruct the view of hoardings.

Increasingly more and more citizens are feeling the need to step in and stop the downward slide of the erstwhile 'Garden City’. But while tree plantation and awareness drives are being conducted with gusto, experts and naturalists warn that these may not always have the desired effect. "One should plant only native species of trees as they don’t need much looking after to survive,” says Durgesh Agrahari, Head of Partnerships and Projects, SayTrees Environmental Trust.

"People tend to prefer ornamental or flower-bearing trees but that is not always
advisable. You can opt for the flower-bearing variety in the native species also, like the 'Champaka’.”

Loss of biodiversity is one of the major problems that come with plantation drives where people go for fast-growing or flowery varieties over local species. While some of the saplings may use too much water or harm the soil, others may not be able to withstand the climate of the region.

Durgesh also highlights the importance of taking care of the sapling and not assuming that one’s responsibility is over with the act of planting. "We planted over 17,000 saplings in Bengaluru last year alone and took care of them all through summer. We make sure to plant saplings that are at least 5-6 ft tall or in other words, around two years old. These require less care, bring about an immediate change in the landscape and are less susceptible to damage,” he explains and adds that it is important to take the required permissions from concerned authorities before embarking on such an act.

The least that people can do is to at least keep an eye out for incidents like the poisoning of trees in Marathahalli, says Vijay Nishanth, tree doctor and urban conservationist. "There are so many educated people in that area and not even one of them was concerned when 17 trees began withering and dying suddenly. It made me so upset,” he shares.

Asked about how citizens can identify such activities, Vijay admits that it is a tricky situation. "People can keep a lookout for acts of mutilation and stapling as well as excessive chopping, which can actually send a tree into depression where it just stops growing.”

Talking about how holes are drilled into barks and acid poured into these, Vijay points out how to recognise this. "Acid causes appearance of black marks on the trunk so people can look out for these when healthy trees start wilting. In case they find anything suspicious, they can always call me. Also, trees are now being treated as dumping places; all kinds of garbage is seen littered around the roots. This, combined with cement choking, is steadily killing the trees and people should protest against it,” he says.

Rukmi Sarmah, ex-student of NIT Silchar, stresses on the need for awareness drives and sensitisation of the local community. "People need to be made aware about the native flora and the role they play. The authorities should take proper care of the saplings they plant and ensure that the taxpayers’ money is not wasted for mere photo opportunities.”


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