Usually, in any citizen-led plantation drive, there is very little thought given to the fate of the saplings—everyone just hopes that the plant will be able to sustain on its own like the others on the road.
However, that is far from the truth, because saplings have a bleak survival rate and need to be nurtured before they can grow into hardy plants. Apart from watering and trimming them, it is also vital to ensure the area where they are planted, is safe from human interventions, and not used for parking.
Interestingly, in 2016, these very apprehensions led to the development of a concrete plan by the Vasanthanagar Residents Welfare Association (VRWA), before they commenced a plantation drive to increase the green cover in their colony.
Four years later, their careful efforts have ensured that 99 per cent of the 350 trees planted by the association are surviving.
“Close to 350 plants of various native species like honge, neem, sampige and basavan pada (also known as butterfly tree) make for the greenery that now flourishes in the area,” informs Balasubramanya R, one of the core members of the group, to The Better India.
The motivation to take the eco-friendly step came around in 2016 when the city, once known as ‘garden city,’ witnessed one of the hottest summers in the decade.
“Newspapers were highlighting how tree felling was leading to a rise in temperatures, and several members of the group who had been residents of the area for almost 20 years also agreed that the decline in the green cover was alarming,” shares Balasubramanya.
Instead of complaining about the situation, VRWA decided to address it and bring a solution. It was only a matter of a few discussions before his friends came on board to plant trees.
Here’s How The Plan Worked:
To begin with, the association got the necessary permission to plant trees on the road from Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and sourced free seeds from a local NGO. The, they divided the area into four parts and allocated volunteers to each zone. The volunteers identified places to dig pits and plant seeds.
“We checked for an area without drainage, manholes, parking spots, and cable connections so that in future no plant would have to be cut. But the most daunting task to convince residents to use areas outside their houses and also get them on board to look after the trees,” says Balasubramanya.
This entire process of identifying spots took around three months. The next three weeks were dedicated to digging pits for which the members hired labourers.
Finally on 23 April 2016, 250 plants were planted simultaneously in all four zones. Speaking about the day, Balasubramanya says, “We recorded participation of around 100 people who worked for nearly 12 hours to complete the feat.”
He adds that planting trees was not the challenging part, making sure they stayed healthy and didn’t die, was.
In the first eight months, 15 per cent of the plants turned unhealthy, and some even died due to lack of sunlight or poor soil. After identifying these plants, the members made sure to pay extra attention to them, and even replanted some.
“It was a total team effort from residents of all age groups. We were successful in not only planting those trees but also in their maintenance. Personally speaking, it was a great experience for me,” says Sunil, one of the volunteers.
Once the plants shaped into healthy trees, the members planted 100 more in trees in February last year.
Activities like watering, de-weeding and trimming plants and cleaning the area around the trees have now become an everyday ritual for the citizens during the summers from February to June. The rest of the year, plants sustain themselves.
If citizens across India show similar commitment and dedication like the members of VRWA, then we can certainly increase our green cover!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)