Greed for records can’t ensure greenery
We asked: Topic of the month: Knowing there is such a huge shortage of land that even the agricultural land is being claimed for development works like flyovers, highways, road/rail routes, industrial units etc., tall claims of ‘record’ tree plantation every year to the tune of 25 crore and more can only be eyewash?
Plantation at a larger scale by government as well as certain organizations is just to clock records after records every year. In reality these are paper trees only that have no ground realism. In order to complete the target, the employees sometimes keep the large branches of trees instead of saplings. Therefore the so called “record” tree plantations in a single day, is just a dramatic programme by the government. There is no one to verify the number of seedlings planted and their survival in the future. There is no third party certification of that. The complete report, verification and monitoring of the tree seedlings is wholly provided by government agencies. It is an exercise that is carried out every year in haste and pressure, without sufficient arrangements. Time after time, pompous claims are made by authorities regarding the plantation. The first step for such an activity is to make elaborate preparations, the number of saplings should be limited, involving the locals and providing basic infrastructure, then engage someone who can personally monitor the progress. The nature has everything that is needed. During the monsoon, Mother Earth is covered with countless new saplings that germinate naturally. There is vast variety of naturally germinated trees that is extremely good for maintaining the biodiversity. They are native to the places also. Instead of the pretentious plantation show, the aim should be to protect these naturally growing tree saplings by involving and motivating the local people. The tree guards should be re-used as much as possible. It is commonly seen that sometimes the plant in the tree guard fails to survive and the tree guard is just standing there for years. Many of the trees grow big enough and do not need the tree guards, still the tree guards are there around them, split by the growing tree trunks. This is wastage of tax-payers’ money. Dr Sonika Kushwaha, President, Indian Biodiversity Conservation Society
Any plantation drive without proper planning cannot bring out the desired results. Every year so many plantation drives are done, but no monitoring or planning is done to check how many of the plants have really survived to become a full-grown tree. In fact, only a few months’ care is sufficient to turn a sapling into a small firm plant. I have personally arranged for 2,500 saplings along with one of my team members, who arranged for 1000 saplings, through our contacts without any cost implication for the organization. Around 500 saplings have been given to the district jail Sitapur and rest 3000 saplings have been planted in various schools and near or outside the homes of the learners of SNF adult education centres in our intervening areas. We did this understanding that just plantation of a sapling cannot ensure its growth to a tree. In Sitapur, with the support of SNF, ICT classes for grade 1 and 2 were running in 124 government schools, 10 private schools along with the 161 adult education centres. In 2019, SNF decided to distribute free saplings of various species in these intervening schools and centres. Students of these smart classes took a pledge to conserve the environment in all possible ways with their small contribution for the mother earth. My team had assigned students to take care of these saplings along with their teachers. Similarly this responsibility has been given to the learners of the SHIKSHA + (adult education) centres. At least, for the initial few months, if these saplings can get the safety to turn into a small plant, there are greater chances of them growing into lush trees. I am citing this example with the only intention of making other people aware of a way to deal with post-plantation care, which is most important. Otherwise, we can go on making records, but no actual increase will take place. Preeti M Shah, Senior Project Coordinator, Shiv Nadar Foundation (SNF), Sitapur
Topic of the month: Do you think in the unlock phases, there has been a marked change in air quality and the pollution levels of all kinds- noise, air, water- have started showing symptoms of revival? How should we, and the govt, deal with this? You may send your views in 200 words at treetakemagazine@gmail. Please also attach a colour photo of yourself.