The mantra going around for quite some time is, “Don’t park your vehicle under a tree”, especially in the pre-monsoon, monsoon and withdrawing monsoon periods. These givers of shade and plenty more which were once the pride of our living areas are now seen as a threat. So what is it that makes it so? Are trees in urban areas a strict No No?
We always had trees in Belagavi city and if memory serves me right, they were always welcome. Nothing better than a tree canopy for shade in the summer, isn’t it? Not just the walking folk but even our cars would vouch for the same. So what is it that has changed?
In good old days we were blessed with the shade of the trusted Banyan and Peepal but these soon became impediments for building roads and were taken off. The Jambool tree was another common presence till we started looking at the fruit as a colorful nuisance. The Jackfruit lost favour, I don’t really know why and the Mango and Tamarind did so because children would throw stones which might hurt others. The Neem and Apta were plundered for their leaves and slowly diminished. These happened to be the predominant species in the city and they soon gave way for more fancy ones that complicated things.
The prevalent trees in the city now a days are largely Rain Tree, Indian Almond, Forest Flame-Pichkari tree, Pink Trumpet flower tree, Gulmohur, Singapore Cherry, etc. The fact that many of these are short lived soft wood trees, does not help. The infrastructural work further damages the roots and once the rot sets in, the trees become unsafe.
Unscientific pruning disturbs the weight balance and it is only a matter of time before the wind leads to the fall, endangering the lives of citizens.
So coming to the task of “Making a case for Urban Trees”, it’s a tough one. But here goes:
- When we plant trees in the city, we need to give preference to native species mentioned earlier because they not just provide shade but also support native species of insects and birds
- We need to ensure that we plant trees with hard wood so that they don’t break in strong winds
- Preferably plant trees which have lesser branching so that they don’t interfere with the electric cables and pruning doesn’t disturb the balance
- Allot large enough clear soil spaces around the tree so that we have a strong root system to hold them in place
- Most slow growing trees are stronger and last longer so prefer Banyan, Peepal, Tamarind, etc because they will support many generations
However, the most difficult question is “What do we do with the existing ones?”
Well, we can still try giving them enough space to develop better roots.
We can prune the trees well in advance to ensure that the balance is right and they don’t topple.
We need to ensure that people don’t dig around the trees or set fire to leaves at the base, thus weakening the tree.
We can set up composting systems to ensure that the leaves are no longer a nuisance and people look at them more positively.
Most importantly, we need educate people and get them involved in maintaining trees around their houses and beyond to preserve these little microsystems that prevent local warming, address both air and noise pollution and provide habitats for birds and insects.
Unless we do this and much more, people are going to continue to look at them as a threat rather than a necessity.
The trees in our city are fast diminishing and it would be wonderful to add a couple of lakh trees to the city to restore it to its good old climatic glory. The Green Saviours team is engaged in tree planting and maintenance every Sunday and more for 330 consecutive weeks since we started. We will continue to “Make a case for Urban Trees”.
DO JOIN US.
May better sense prevail!!!