Call for scientific assessment of status and health of trees in the city

Members of Tree Walk Thiruvananthapuram, an informal venture of tree lovers in the city, have expressed concern over the recent decision to cut or prune trees that are perceived to be dangerous to the public and the surroundings.

The venture, which conducts regular tree walks through the city, has called for a scientific approach to the issue. Speaking to The Hindu after the 22 walk in the Pettah region, which focussed on clusters of trees here on Sunday, S. Anitha, one of the coordinators for the venture, said there had to be a scientific assessment of the status and health of the trees in the city.

Pointing out how a tree near the Pettah bridge was pruned just on one side, thus affecting the stability of the tree, Ms. Anitha said the Kerala Forest Research Institute, Thrissur, had evolved a protocol by which this could be done. With most of the trees in the city over 50 years of age, this would have to be done without delay, she said.

Further, the tree species that were selected for planting along roads had to be evaluated for suitability to climate. Factors like wind and rain too must be considered. The ones that were being planted now, like jacaranda, were weak-rooted and would not stand alone, she said, stressing the need for an expert botanist to be included in the process.

The site selection too was important, since huge trees could not be planted along footpaths where tiles would be laid at the base of the tree. Tree Walk had already submitted to authorities a list of 10 species that were suitable for the city.

Native species

Tree Walk, stressing on preference for native species, was also trying to get authorities agree to their proposals for butterfly gardens in various parts of the city. The Public Library premises and the College of Fine Arts campus were among the proposed sites.

Instead of the usual trees, the areas should have trees and plants that would attract butterflies.

A campus round for school and college students, to be conducted within their campuses in partnerships with school eco clubs, too was being planned, Ms. Anitha said.