Soon, an ambulance for ‘ailing’ trees in New Delhi

February 11th, 2009 - 6:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) A drooping branch sprawling with parasites, the bark infected with fungus - don’t worry trees! An ambulance will soon be on its way to save you.
If all goes according to the civic authority’s plan, a tree ambulance service will be in place to treat and restore “ailing” trees by April 2009.

“This is a part of our plant protection unit, wherein we will have a dedicated team to look after the health of trees,” Anand Tiwari, spokesman for the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), told IANS.

The national capital is managed by three civic agencies, of which the NDMC is responsible for the area in the central parts which include several government offices and residences of diplomats.

The area also comprises several important buildings like Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House and the Supreme Court.

The proposed idea of tree ambulances came about during NDMC’s budget discussions and a part of the budget has been allocated for this purpose, Tiwari said.

“We realised that many of the trees are in poor physical condition but can be salvaged, so we thought why not try to resurrect them,” Tiwari said.

The NDMC’s decision is based on a report by the Forest Research Institute (Dehradun) that said while the condition of many trees in the New Delhi area was abysmal, many trees could be saved from their doom, if proper care is given.

While the details of the project are still being worked on, NDMC is quite sure of its potential.

“The details are still being worked out. Initially there will be a few ambulances with trained horticulture department personnel with equipment like chainsaws, shovels and medicine sprays. Eventually, based on functioning, the number may be increased,” said a senior NDMC official.

The 71 trees had fallen and 20,411 new saplings had been planted in NDMC area, in the year 2007-2008, as per official records.

Still there had been a continuous decrease in the number of fully-grown trees in the past decade, owing to various reasons including widespread infrastructure expansion eyeing the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The New Delhi area still has trees over a hundred years old, planted during the British colonial period, but owing to neglect many of these trees are threatened by fungal infections, parasites and even noise pollution.

To address concerns on improving the “tree basins” in the three percent land area of the capital managed by it, the NDMC has undertaken activities like regular soil change and fertiliser addition, growth of ground cover, treatment of insects and fungal diseases and removing dangerous trees, the official said.

This is in addition to planting saplings, he said.

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