‘Why does a forest need a tree park?’

Opposition mounts to State government’s plans to ‘popularise’ nearly-600-acre Turahalli forest

Published - January 29, 2021 06:35 am IST

The Turahalli forest lies in southwest Bengaluru.

The Turahalli forest lies in southwest Bengaluru.

Why does a forest need a tree park? This is the question that citizens and environmentalists are asking about the government’s plan to create a tree park in the nearly-600-acre Turahalli forest. They are questioning the logic of the plan, especially since there is a tree park opposite the forest.

Cleanup Turahalli, a group of volunteers working on conservation of the ecosystem at Turahalli, said that instead of investing in productive plans such as creating a sustainable water body inside the forest, the government is looking at implementing changes without consulting the public.

“Human movement should be completely restricted in a reserve forest. Only then will it be more secure as a forest. A tree park is the beginning of the destruction of a forest, a move towards commercialisation. Within no time, it will become another Cubbon Park or Lalbagh, and along with that, not only have a negative impact on the existing biodiversity, but also spoil the environment around the neighbourhood and inconvenience residents,” said a volunteer with Cleanup Turahalli.

They questioned the impact that increased human intervention will have on the numerous species of birds, animals and reptiles in the forest. “There are lot of peacocks inside Turahalli forest. Peacock comes under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. How can they make a peacock forest habitat into a public park?”

Ravishankar S.S., DCF, Bengaluru Urban, maintained that the proposed tree park is not ‘inside the forest’, but ‘on the periphery’. “There is already a walking path. Some benches and children's play equipment will be added to that section without harming the biodiversity. Recently, some 113 species of birds have been recorded against the earlier 80. That means birds are coming. We want to popularise this forest and increase awareness among people and children about nature,” he said.

He also reasoned that the move would ward off encroachers, and patrolling would be increased.

When asked about the need for another tree park in the area, he said the existing one is small, with basic amenities. “Not everyone can travel all the way to Cubbon Park or Lalbagh. When we create tree parks, we are lowering the pressure on Cubbon Park and Lalbagh as well,” said. Mr. Ravishankar.

Citizens are now appealing to those in power, including the Prime Minister, to let the forest be.

“While we are open to progress and development, we would not like to achieve that by destroying the existing green cover. Ever since entry to Turahalli reserve was banned by fencing the periphery, it has bloomed and thickened its green cover, resulting in an increased number of natural habitants and has also welcomed new ones. If this is kept up, we can gradually see other species of flora and fauna returning to this forest,” they have said in an open letter, urging the Prime Minister to “prevent damage to the endangered forest”.

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