But last year, Cyclone Vardah scythed at the greenery of the city, razing to the ground the hard work of residents.
“It is a lesson to rectify some of the past mistakes and improve upon future tree plantation exercises. Maybe our choice of tree species was not right and also, we should have adopt proper planting techniques,” said Usha, a resident of Mandaveli.
With the help of Chennai Trekking Club, residents of Raja Street in Mandaveli had planted more than 20 saplings in November 2016.
The onus is on the residents to maintain the saplings. Every house in the entire stretch waters and nurtures the saplings, thanks to the concerted effort of the entire community in maintaining them.
G. Ramakrishnan a guest faculty at the Department of Horticulture in Anna University elaborates on the maintenance of the trees.
“One has to choose the native species and not the exotic ones while planting trees in the avenues or around homes. These alone can withstand this year’s high temperatures,” advises Ramakrishnan.
Do not plant saplings, sow seeds and nurture them, only then can they withstand onslaught of diseases, drought or natural calamity. They are akin to rearing of children, he explains.
Regarding maintenance of trees, he says that drip irrigation is the best as it uses water judiciously. Moisture can be conserved by adding organic matter, cocopeat and leaf waste around the base of the tree, he says. One can also go in for polymers (which absorb lot of water) that will help the roots to retain moisture, he tells residents. “Pruning the leaves efficiently is another way of saving moisture.”
Shoba Menon, trustee and founder-member of Nizhal feels that citizens have to be sensitised about indigenous species. “There is less demand for them. These trees help maintain the ecology in an area,” she said. She feels sad that people are more interested in planting saplings but forget to nurture them. Fully grown trees are also little cared for.
If residents in a locality are interested in maintaining trees, they can contact us, she suggested. Volunteers of Nizhal will give them a hand after checking factors such as quality of soil, conducive environment, willingness to maintain trees.
“Nizhal will explain about the nature of the saplings and facilitate in maintaining the avenue plants with the help of horticulturists. If we have to escape the heat in 2017, we must learn to treat trees like children,” added Shoba.