Hot News

Environment Injustice Invisible - 74

Environment Injustice Invisible - 74

“Look after the trees for five years, then the trees will look after you. A tree-sapling/seedling is like child needing preparation for it to be born into a well prepared pit and then to be looked after till it has the minimum capacity to grow independently.”

The above saying was coined by me in the early eighties when I was deeply involved in Social Forestry Programmes all over India. It was one of India’s flagship developmental dreams when our forests resources were dwindling and the livelihood of the tribals and others who depended on forests shrank to the minimum. “Gone are the days of Social Forestry”, said someone. Today Social Forestry is not even heard in the environment and forestry circles. From that point of view Vanmahotsav is still shimmering in the Indian environmental horizon. As per written and proclaimed statements we have been planting lakhs and lakhs of tree-saplings in thousands of hectares in every state since 1950 which year Dr. K. M. Munshi, the first Agriculture Minister of our country launched the Vanmahotsav and constituted the IFoS cadre at par with Indian IAS and IPS in selection, training and remuneration. If all those saplings planted survived the whole country would have been a contiguous forest with 100% tree cover and we all would have been forest dwellers. “Thank God we are not”, a light-hearted fellow may comment. But the point here referred to is different: practically all those who are engaged in Social  Forestry or Vanmahotsav do not know the basics of “Planting and Caring of Trees” and all our Vanmahotsavs   were vaporized into VANITIES as I have shown in my previous write up: Injustices in Ignorance.

The percentage of forest area officially declared remains around 18-22% for the last 67 years. What is the reason for the massive NATIONAL FAILURE? Surveys have shown that the people who planted tree saplings did not have the basic technical know-how of planting and caring of tree saplings and the survival rate of saplings planted was not even 10% in the first year and in the second year it was reduced to zero in almost all the cases. If at all any sapling survived it was by mere chance. Hence in this write up I intend to lay down the basics of planting and caring of tree saplings till five years as per the above mentioned saying: “Look after the trees for five years, then trees will look after you.”

People who planted tree saplings did not have the technical know-how of planting and caring of tree saplings and the survival rate of them was not even 10% in the first year and in the second year it was reduced to zero in almost all the cases.

 

Tree plantation is a long term project and proper planning and execution is very important. It really involves two years of preparation and five years of aftercare. A sapling/seedling is like child needing preparation for it to be born into a pit and to be brought up to a minimum level independent living capacity. Following are the major steps in planting and caring of sapling/seedlings.

Planning consists in : 1.  Estimation of total area of plantation, 2.  Decision on what type of trees to be planted: fuel, fodder, timber, fruit, oil seeds, manure trees etc., 3. Decision on the type of planting: monoculture, randomly mixed, line plantation, strip or block plantation, integrated plantation, etc., 4.  Decision on the design of planting: square, rectangular, quincunx, hexagonal or contour, 5.  Keeping a margin of 15-20% or more of saplings to fill in the gaps formed by the mortality of saplings in the first year, 6.  Order/buy the required kind and number of tree saplings from a reliable nursery or raise them in your own nursery taking into consideration the germination failure and mortality of seedlings in the nursery etc. 7. Make an estimate of the cost and benefit, 8. Arrange for finance to meet the cost, 9. Organize the operations and the labour, 10. Maintain records and accounts, 11. Any other points, as per need of each place and situation.

Remember:

Planning and implementation of tree planting in the

Catchment and Command areas are different things.

In the Catchment areas we plant trees for perennial forest cover but in the Command areas we plant trees for fruits, firewood, timber and for beautification.

Planting material may be seedlings or saplings: seedlings are those raised from seeds while saplings are those raised from any part other than seeds of the tree, like cuttings, budding and grafting. One year old or one metre high seedlings or saplings grown in polythene bags are the most suitable planting material. Survival rate is directly proportional to the age, size and vigor of the seedlings/saplings. Select only the vigorous and healthy growing saplings for planting. Often around 50-60% of the planting materials raised in the nursery are not suitable for planting in the field; rests are to be discarded. Sowing seeds directly in the field is the least viable method of raising trees. Equally non-viable is the planting of just few months old seedlings/saplings.

One year old or one metre high vigorously growing seedlings or saplings grown in polythene bags are the most suitable planting material.

Preparation of the planting area consists in clearing the area and digging of the pits. For digging the pits one should know the average recommended spacing between different trees as given in Table 1.

Table 1 : Space requirement of some common trees 

Sl.No.

Types of trees

Spacing (metres)

Sl.No.

Types of trees

Spacing (metres)

1

Almond

6-8

24

Mandarin

5-6

2

Apricot

6-8

25

Mango

10-12

3

Apple

8-9

26

Mangosteen

10-12

4

Avocado

8-9

27

Mulberry

6-8

5

Banana

6-8

28

Papaya

3-4

6

Ber

11-12

29

Peach

6-8

7

Bread fruit

11-12

30

Pear

4-5

8

Cashew nut

7-8

31

Pecan nut

10-12

9

Cherry

9-12

32

Phalsa

5-6

10

Custard apple

5-6

33

Pineapple

1-2

11

Date palm

11-12

34

Plum

5-6

12

Fig

3

35

Pomegranate

5-6

13

Grape fruit

6-8

36

Pumelo

5-8

14

Guava

6-8

37