Concrete causes trees to crash

Mindless paving is depriving trees of nutrition, and causing them to fall. A courier executive died on the spot when a branch crashed on him on Wednesday

This picture, taken during ‘white-topping’ in Basavanagudi, shows how roads and footpaths are built with concrete choking trees.

A courier executive died in Bengaluru on Wednesday when a tree fell on him.

The heavy downpour on Wednesday and Thursday, accompanied by gusty winds, brought down many trees across the city.

Experts blame the phenomenon on mindless concretisation of footpaths.

Dr T V Ramachandra, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, says ‘irresponsible concretisation’ chokes tree roots, depriving them of water, nutrients and respiration.

Overall, mismanagement of natural resources is a big cause for trees crashing. 
“Apathy and greed are the prime causal factors. There is an 88 per cent decline in vegetation cover, 79 per cent loss of water bodies, and 1,028 per cent increase in paved surfaces in the last five decades. Today, the city is choked with 80 per cent paved surfaces and it has only 4.5 per cent natural spaces,” he explains.

 Vijay Nishant, urban conservationist and founder of Project Vruksha, seconds Ramachandra’s views. “The space around trees is choked with cement and tar. The roots are chopped to make way for sewage lines,” he says. He says the BBMP must regularly prune weak and dry branches.

The need of the hour is to preserve the city’s biodiversity, says environmentalist Suresh Heblikar of Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development. 
“People have begun to look at trees from two perspectives-- commercial and environmental. We must look at what trees can be planted in the city, given its dramatic growth. We have to also examine the soil structure to understand which trees are long-lasting,” he told Metrolife.

Brittle trees
Some exotic species like copper pod, rain tree, and gulmohar are brittle and strong winds cause their branches to fall, says Vijay Nishant, ‘tree doctor.’

Branch fell on courier exec’s head
Kiran, 27, was on a courier delivery errand when it started raining on Wednesday. He parked his bike by the roadside and took shelter under a tree on Outer Ring Road near Hebbal. The tree crashed, and a branch fell on his head. He died on the spot. About 25 trees fell on Wednesday.

Choose honge over gulmohar

Experts offer some solutions

Empower ward committees with multidisciplinary knowledge (waste management, trees, lakes, drains, gardens, recreation space management). They could stop the BBMP from taking irrational decisions.

Move towards native species such as neem and honge. It is time to replace exotic species with native species. Native species are well adapted to Bengaluru conditions. Exotic species may look good but fall easily.

Have a dedicated tree wing (with an advisory committee) for species selection and tree management. The experts can come up with plans for gradual replacement of weak trees.

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