Growing Forests

Organizations like Trees For Free and Hasiru Usiru are doing a commendable job of trying to enhance and protect our tree cover.

However, there is a basic contradiction in greening goals and urban landscapes – the latter is about “usage” of land – and that more in commercial terms than anything else. Everything else is secondary – and even the space legally, or voluntarily, created for trees and natural cover, is done as a major concession and something to be proud of.

Of course, it is something to be proud of. But its also something we should have realized by now that we depend on as a species – for keeping things cool, keeping the air fresh, and for keeping the water cycle going. Its not something that should be a discretionary afterthought, but the most important part of evolving urban landscapes.

Sure. But thats merely an ideal, and we’re really really, really far from it.

In the hierarchy of needs and wants, the above ideal is pretty low. So while there’s sporadic resistance, and occasional sparks of desire, and even action to see more green and less stone, prick, mortar and glass – its more or less a losing battle. The vocabulary is “cut as few trees as possible”, or “try growing trees where it does not affect your foundations”, etc. Can’t blame anyone – thats how it is – and everyone’s got fair reasons for it. N-thousand-per-square-foot is quite a compelling reason, more often than not. And pollution related disease and death is not that visible a counter-force. Sure the water’s depleting, but our tanker guy manages to get us enough, and we’re ok for now….

So ? We carry on ? What else could we do ?

So here’s a whacky idea…

I’ve been vocalizing that the governement needs visionary goals, and one of those must be to grab back free land where available, not play the per-square-feet game, and afforest it with a manic zeal. But of course, I have little influence, and not too much hope that the government will formulate such goals and move in these directions.

Next best ? We do it. Me and you cannot go around buying too much land to afforest. But collectively, we could start building a layer of green defenses – perhaps within, and perhaps also around the city. A forest here, a green island there, maybe even an acre with a lake and a lot of trees.

A trust owns and manages the land. We legally ensure it can never be used for any other purpose. We try and ensure its marked as “forest” or “parks” in CDPs.

If 100000 people put in a 500/- each, thats a lot of forest land we could create around the city (25-30 kms away its still not that expensive). Sure there are legal hurdles, issues around policy formulation, long term goals, and financing issues. Worth a shot ? If it grows, I’m sure a few corporates would not mind pitching in.

Questions about loss of farmland and food security just in case this idea grows? Agriculture needs better techniques, innovation. As part of this effort, we can engage both for that as well as for conservation.

If 10 people respond to this, will create a mailing list, and a spreadsheet to collect “committments”.

Idea? Non starter? Thoughts?


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