Monday, May 28, 2007

Mapping trees,

Mapping trees, HISTORY & HERITAGE
Prathima Nandakumar | TNN

Bangalore: Ever heard of a 1,000-year-old tamarind tree with aerial roots in Devanahalli, a mango tree dating back to Tipu Sultan’s period or the trees that remind one of the Indo-USSR bonhomie at Lalbagh?
Bangalore is a treasure trove of ancient trees. But as tree lovers put it —they are “ancient but not captives of record books’’. Sadly, most of these trees escape people’s attention despite dotting the cityscape for hundreds of years.
To help people identify and value these trees, the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) and an NGO, Bangalore Environment Trust (BET), have launched a project — Heritage Trees — where volunteers would map trees
as also promote eco-tourism. KSTDC hopes to evolve a ‘Green Circuit’ featuring 100 ‘heritage’ trees.
The project’s theme is: Every tree has a tale to narrate. “Bangalore has at least 300 heritage trees which are either ancient or have an interesting history, apart from their ecological value. We started mapping in April and hope to complete by March 2008. Trees in Chamarajpet, Basavanagudi, Malleswaram, Nelamangala and Nallur in Devanahalli have already entered the list,’’ explains BET member and retired IFS officer S G Neginhal.
Every heritage tree will display a plaque indicating age, height, girth and other specifications, along with their historical and ecological importance.
“Eco-tourism could be a major tourist attraction. Bangalore’s high altitude and good climate support a wide variety of species. How about adding a bonsai garden, bamboo zone or a green island,’’ asks horticulture department director G K Vasanth Kumar.
The NGO is drawing up two more projects to save ‘Gundu Thopu’ (village orchards) and ‘Devarakadu’ (sacred groves). The teams are identifying Gundu thopus at
Nallur in Devanahalli, Anjanapura and Whitefield, which are traditionally gene pools for indigenous species of trees. The gundu thopus are said to be typical of Old Mysore state.
“Often, we ascertain trees’ age by old techniques (such as boring) which could damage trees. Epitaphs and inscriptions on temple walls help us calculate trees’ age, ‘’ says Neginhal. “Many such orchards are being misused as parking lots.’’
What qualifies as a heritage tree?
Any tree which is indigenous and older than 100 years, with historical significance and ecological value. Trees with mythological reference — like Ashoka tree associated with the Ramayana — also fall into this category. While, the leaves of ‘Ficus krishne’ are believed to have been used as a cup by Lord Krishna to eat butter
A huge tamarind tree on the GPO premises Peepal trees near Kaadu Malleshwara temple in Malleswaram Ippe (Madhuka longifolia) trees near Yeshwantpur market Huge banyan tree in Basaveshwaranagar Park Gigantic Margosa trees on Kanakapura Road


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