Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

Cost and complications of transplanting a tree


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Tree transplantation and its feasibility

The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) wants to transplant over 1,800 trees which are inside what used to be the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) complex, as part of the Central Vista redevelopment project.

Transplantation of trees

  • The transplantation of trees is a complex and delicate process whose outcome cannot be predicted.
  • A tree cannot be transplanted by simply uprooting it and placing it in a pit dug elsewhere. The process involves multiple steps and requires significant expertise.

How it is done?

  • First, the soil around the tree is dug up to isolate the roots. The big branches are lopped off, leaving only small shoots for regeneration. This is done to make transportation of the tree to the new location easier.
  • The root system is covered with wet gunny bags to protect the roots and to keep the tree hydrated.
  • The tree has to be first sent to a nursery to acclimatize to a new kind of soil, and to regenerate.
  • Once new shoots start sprouting, the tree is lowered into a pit created in its new spot.

What factors determine the success of a transplant?

  • Even after all steps are meticulously followed, a lot depends on luck. The survival rate of a transplanted tree is about 50%.
  • Not all trees can be transplanted. While peepal, ficus, semal and sheesham are tolerant to transplantation, trees such as dak, palash, arjun, shahtoot and jhilmil are not.

(1) Roots

  • Any tree that has a tap root system cannot be transplanted, as the root goes deep into the soil, and it is not possible to isolate it without damage.

(2) Size

  • Transplanting any tree with a trunk girth of more than 80-90 cm is not advisable as the tree cannot bear the shock, and will eventually die.

(3) Age

  • That effectively means that big, old trees cannot, in most cases, be removed to another location.

(4) Soil

  • It is important to consider soil type before transplantation.
  • A tree growing on, say, the Delhi Ridge will not easily acclimatize to the soil in the Yamuna floodplain, as the two ecosystems are entirely different.

How expensive is transplantation?

  • The cost of transplanting an average-sized tree might come to around Rs 1 lakh, which included post-transplantation care.
  • For larger trees, the cost could go up to Rs 3 lakh.
  • Private and voluntary organizations, however, claim that the cost is between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 per tree.

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