Save our trees

Martin Luther had said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” And yet we continue to justify our destructive actions in the name of development to fell ancient trees with impunity.

The felling of thousands of trees (some more than 200-300 years old) in the recent past for the purpose of expansion of highways in the country, has only underlined the fact that we continue to take trees and thus, nature, for granted. Some of the trees that have been cut down are species such as Jamun, Ficus, and Peepal that have provided food for thousands of animals and also cool shade to weary travelers while beautifying the highways.

Now, these trees are propagated by planting the cuttings and their stumps, which would grow into trees again after a few decades, if they survive. But if uprooted and planted properly the years, or maybe even centuries spent in growth would not go to waste. Some countries even have ‘tree-orphanages’ for this purpose where such trees are nurtured for some time before they are planted elsewhere or sold to interested people. We have the technology, machinery, and resources to accomplish this, too, but our blasé attitude towards them is what causes us to not take any action.


The Tamarind tree which is unwilling to die


Today, trees on highways enjoy no protection, particularly those species that can be used to feed goats. People lop the trees on highways for firewood and fodder and there is no one to question them. After cutting down these trees, ecologically unsuitable trees such as Pongamia pinnata are often planted along the roadside. They do provide a good shade covering, but animals cannot obtain any food from them. As these trees require less dedication when it comes to their protection, it seems like the days of the magnificent Jamun, tamarind, and Ficus are now over.

People do not realize that cutting down a large tree is a great sin; it is worse than killing your own children. It is essential that the uprooted trees be planted somewhere else and this should be planned for before any tree is felled.


This article first appeared in the April 2015 edition of Saevus magazine

About the Author /

Dr A.J.T. Johnsingh is one of India’s foremost field biologists and conservationists. He retired as Dean, Faculty of Wildlife Sciences, at theWildlife Institute of India in 2005. He lives in Bangalore and works for Nature Conservation Foundation as Eminent Wildlife Biologist and for WWF-India as Honorary Scientific Advisor.

Post a Comment