As roots matter

World Earth Day

As roots matter

How much do we care for the earth that we stay in? With the increasing heat and lack of shade in the city, most Bengalureans blame it on the lack of efficient urban planning. On the occasion of ‘World Earth Day’ which  comes this year with the theme ‘Trees for the Earth’, Bengalureans talk about the need for a proper tree cover for the city.

Environmentalist Suresh Heblikar observe that the city has lost more than 60 percent of the tree cover in the past 10 years that it proudly boasted off. “Bengaluru’s topography is such that it has a variety of trees like the ‘kumkum’ tree, ‘Nagalinga’ tree and more. But this has been rapidly decreasing because of the rampant cutting of trees,” he says. Suresh adds that since there are lesser trees around, the climate is affected. “This is why the city is seeing temperatures like never before. When solar radiation is not being converted into biochemical elements, it affects the system,” he says. It is important to understand the biodiversity in trees, while planting them, says Ulhas Anand, the director of EcoEdu, who coordinates ‘Tree Walks’.

 “Each tree has a different story and role to play, and that is what we discuss during our events. We try to create a bond between the people and the trees. The stature of the trees, where to plant what etc, are some points we cover. Our steps are — if you know it,
you will not harm it; if you know it, you will care for it and if you know it, then you will know what goes where,” he details.

Ulhas says that with Bengaluru having scorching hot weather, shade is what everyone is looking for. “It is a known fact that the temperature under the shade will be around 4 to 6 degrees lesser than the actual temperature.” He says that fast growing trees are the only solution for this scenario.

On a positive note, hugging a tree is a growing trend among tree enthusiasts as it is believed to build a bond between a person and the tree. Manasi Anand, who started the ‘Hug A Tree’ campaign with ‘Neralu’ says that the city is losing its charm because of the missing trees.

“Try hugging a tree and you would know, how it can calm you down. It will bring you closer to nature and you will slowly realise the many things you have not been giving attention to,” she says. Hammering the trees with nails and pasting posters on them, this hampers the growth of the tree. “Such insensitiveness needs to stop,” says Manasi.

The importance of planting saplings since a young age is a requisite. Kavita Kannan, a tree enthusiast, says, “Planting trees is a solution to the reducing foliage, but nurturing them and taking care of them is equally important. Planting trees just for the sake of it doesn’t help anything as they won’t grow well if related factors aren’t looked into.”

One needs to know how to respect trees. “Even the BESCOM officials prunes trees in a way which affects the trees’ growth. There needs to be a clear understanding,” she voices.

Harini Nagendra, a professor of sustainability with Azim Premji University, says that the tree cover of the city has depleted in multitudes. “Though we do not have a number, tens of thousands of varieties of trees have been lost, especially the ones on the streets.”

Harini says that an aggressive replantation system is the only way out. “But this has to be done in a systematic and organised manner, while understanding what trees works for which space,” she says. She adds that the Horticulture Department and the BBMP should work out with a comprehensive solution for replantation and for maintaining the trees that are still around. “Solutions like reducing the cutting down of trees, transplantation and tree alignment are things, the authorities should look into,” she adds.

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