Struggling to check the destruction of green cover, the Delhi forest department will accord heritage tag to certain tree species, hoping the experiment will help arrest the slide.
Delhi's chief conservator of forests AK Shukla, while speaking at a panel discussion on the topic 'Delhi's dying trees', said on Wednesday, "We will preserve one tree from all species. These trees have to be 100 years old or even older and would be preserved till their natural death." A committee will prepare a list of trees that can be considered heritage properties and such trees will get a treatment similar to that accorded to protected monuments.
"We're looking at species that have withstood the pressures and pollution of Delhi and are best suited for the local climate. They have to be bird-friendly, conducive to nesting and fruit-bearing," he said. Aesthetics is not a criterion. "Trees such as ashok and palm are not the contenders. Pilkhan, maulshree, kusum, kadam and some others may make the cut," Shukla added.
However, environmentalists are not very excited with this move. "There are 414 tress species in Delhi. Some 400 heritage trees may help generate awareness but cannot be a solution to thousands of trees being felled, many of them arbitrarily, for infrastructure projects," said a tree activist.
But opposition withstanding, the department plans to go ahead and may take help from the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun in the preservation project. "Old trees have many complications. We may need to fill cavities with bamboos; we need to prolong the lifespan of such trees and keep caring for them till they die a natural death," said an official.
Experts at the panel discussion pointed out that as per law, for each tree felled, 10 saplings have to planted - five by the forest department and as many by the user agency.