More than 20,000 saplings planted in city alone

More than 20,000 saplings planted in city alone

Nearly 1 million saplings have been distributed for planting in the Mysuru territorial division so far during the current year (2020-21) which is expected to shore up the green cover of the region significantly.

This includes 20,000 saplings that were planted across different parts of the city so as to ensure that the green cover quotient of Mysuru did not dwindle despite its expansion.

Deputy Conservator of Forests (Territorial) .K.C.Prashanth Kumar told The Hindu that the bulk of the saplings were distributed ahead of monsoon and have already been planted by the farmers along tank bunds or embankments, open spaces on their land not taken up for cultivation and other places.

Within Mysuru city, the target for greening initiative is about 70 km of road length at the rate of nearly 280 to 300 saplings per km depending on the terrain, bulk of which have been covered. Open spaces belonging to government offices and vacant lands are also being brought under tree cover.

Mr. Prashanth Kumar said the Forest Department does not have funds for their maintenance from next year and hence has written to the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) and the Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) to help finance to safeguard the saplings. It is expected to cost around ₹50 lakh to safeguard the saplings by installing tree guards around them.

These saplings were raised in the nursery of the Forest department and the authorities have given emphasis on nurturing indigenous varieties that can withstand the vagaries of local climatic conditions and do not require much water. Some of the species that are raised and nurtured in the nurseries include Hebbevu, Srigandha, Honge, and Mahogany.

Mr. Prashanth said the survival rate of the saplings range from 90 per cent to 95 per cent and those that wither away will be replaced by the Forest Department.

He said demand for saplings from rural side began soon after the pre-monsoon rains hit the region and this was when the bulk of the seedlings were also distributed. The increase in moisture content in the soil and rains during monsoon ensures that the saplings don’t need watering for at least six months but need protection.

For the farmers the plantation drive has dual benefits as they can supplement their income protecting the saplings they plan on their land. The Forest Department’s Krushi Aranya Protsaha Yojane (KAPY) encourages the farmers to protect the saplings for three years and they receive cash incentive for their efforts. There is a cap of 400 saplings per hectare and protecting.

The scheme entails upon the Forest Department to pay the farmers ₹30 for every surviving sapling at the end of the first and second year and ₹40 per surviving seedling at the end of the third year. The financial incentive is apart from the returns from the mature trees that the farmers accrue by way of fruits, seeds, fodder, firewood, timber etc. In view of the substantial income accruing to the farmers, they take initiative in protecting the saplings and the survival rates are high, according to Forest Department officials. More than 1,100 farmers have received financial incentive in excess of ₹1.05 crore for growing and protecting the saplings, according to the authorities.