Urban forestry initiative gains ground in Tiruchi

The Japanese urban forestry technique of Miyawaki is fast gaining popularity in Tiruchi district.

Not many would have imagined that the method would catch the imagination of the people in a big way when 10,000 saplings were planted on 1.25 acres of land owned by Ranganathaswamy Temple on South Devi Street in Srirangam about a year and a half ago.

S. Vaidhyanathan, who was Assistant Commissioner of Tiruchi Corporation, initiated the drive with the support of a few individuals. The saplings grew to a height of more than 10 feet within three months.

Now, the number of plants raised under the initiative has gone up to 5.93 lakh in Lalgudi revenue division alone. The saplings have been raised on vacant sites and land belonging to the government, Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments and railways.

In the initial stages, school and college students were roped in for planting. When officials found it difficult to source volunteers for the project after educational institutions closed down due to COVID-19, they began to engage the services of workers of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

It cost between ₹5 lakh and ₹20 lakh to raise each urban forestry depending on the size of the land and number of trees. To a large extent, the expenditure has been shared by businessmen, traders and prominent citizens, who volunteered to support the intiative.

Lalgudi, Samayapuram, Kallakudi, Poonampalayam, Inam Samayapuram, Irungalur, Konalai, Venkatachalapuram and Pallapuram are among locations where urban forestry has been raised with people’s participation. Mango, guava, tamarind, vempu, sapota, lemon, vaagai and poovarasam loom large among the planted species.

The plantations have turned into dense forests with trees growing reaching a height of more than 15 to 20 feet, turning the environment lush green.

“Individuals and organisations who sponsored the initiative deserve appreciation. It has been observed that more than 90% of the saplings have grown to trees,” says Collector S. Sivarasu.

It has been decided to plant four more lakh saplings within two to three months in and around Lalgudi, he adds.

“The urban forestry at Poonampalayam, where 50,000 plants have been raised, has emerged as a model. Besides adding beauty to the area, it is a walkers’ paradise for locals,” says S. Vaidhyanathan, Revenue Divisional Officer, Lalgudi.

Mr. Vaidhyanathan says steps have been taken to raise 1.5 lakh saplings on 12 acres of land belonging to a temple at Thachankurichi. Saplings have been sourced from various places in the State. Also, a few more sites have been identified to increase the total number of plants to 10 lakh.

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