Kolkata: Activists call for unshackling of trees from iron cages – Times of India

Kolkata News
KOLKATA: Citizens and green activists have called for an end to the ‘Plant it, cage it and forget it’ practice during sapling plantation drives and demanded trees be unshackled from old rusted iron cages that have long outlived their purpose. While several rusted tree guards have got embedded into tree trunks, others have transformed into garbage bins that are choking the trees.
Installing cages when plantation drives are carried out is an old legacy that dates back to several decades, when cows and goats roamed the city streets. The eviction of khatals or cowsheds from the city in the early 1980s ended the primary survival challenge for saplings. Arjan Basu Roy, who runs environment action group Nature Mates, that helps transplant trees and clean up water bodies, is perplexed why the metal tree guards aren’t removed after a couple of years when a sapling grows into a small tree.


This is extreme callousness. It is highly ironic that measures meant to protect trees are ending up harming them. Agencies and persons responsible for their upkeep must take action as soon as possible.

“It makes sense to reuse the tree guards in a new plantation drive instead of letting them rot and harm the trees,” he reasoned.
TOI found tree guards on Gariahat Road, Gurusaday Road, Ballygunge Circular Road and in neighbourhoods around Deshapriya Park that were either restricting the growth of tree trunks or had been turned into garbage bins. “This problem is a reflection of the lack of overall policy on tree planting—the species, the spacing between trees, their protection and maintenance. We take trees for granted and plant them without thought, cage them without respect and hack them without consequences,” rued environmentalist Bonani Kakkar of NGO PUBLIC.

Tree experts believe there is no protection required in Kolkata when young trees that are around 6 ft tall are used in plantations. “It is a better idea to create a prop so that the trunk grows straight and does not lean. That way, the trees will be less vulnerable to storms in future,” said a horticulturalist.
If some kind of protection is still required to stop people from uprooting young plants to make space for parking on pavements, Kakkar said they did not have to be metal cages that ended up doing more harm to the trees than good. Instead, she suggested the use of darma or mat woven out of bamboo strips as a protective barrier as it was biodegradable.

Some of the iron guards have turned into garbage bins

Seeing the plight of caged trees, Nature Mates has urged KMC and the forest department’s urban forestry division to permit it to free the trees of the shackles. “We will gladly do it for free,” said Basu Roy. “We have also found this caging turning into a menace. We have asked our officials borough-wise to take appropriate action,” said a KMC parks department official.

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/activists-call-for-unshackling-of-trees-from-iron-cages/articleshow/86101083.cms