Walking their way to save city’s green cover

Software professional Satwiki Nair would get disheartened to see people in Mumbai walk past assorted trees without sparing them a glance.

Ten months ago, Nair teamed up with a friend to show Mumbaiites what they were missing. The result was ‘Walk the Mumbai Trees’, a green forum launched by 29-year-old Nair and Lahar Mehta-Sthalekar to organise guided walks for citizens to study trees around the city. Their next walk, organised along with non-profit organisation Bombay HUB, will be held at Bandra this Sunday morning.

“People in Mumbai take trees for granted,” said Nair, who befriended Sthalekar, an architect, during a course in nature conservation and management that they attended two years ago. “They see trees all the time, but they can barely identify them by name, forget understanding their significance.”

The Gulmohar, for instance, is one of the most pervasive trees in the city, but few know that they are not native plants. “They are actually from Madagascar, brought to the city by traders and imperial rulers to be used as canopy trees,” explained Nair.

Since their first trail in Chembur in March 2010, the duo has organised 15 tree walks for groups of up to 30 people offering a complete insight into the histories and peculiarities of trees that are en route.

People who register for the tree walks include professionals, students, housewives and children. While the duo has covered different trails in Dadar, Malabar Hill and Bandra, their favourite area is Chembur’s RCF Colony.

“The area has remained untouched by development so far, and is thriving with indigenous trees of the West coast not found anywhere else in the city,” said Nair, who is afraid many of them will be lost now that a redevelopment plan for the colony has been proposed.


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