Why are we happy to cut the trees?
As we read about terrace gardens and green roofs, the real green roof we have above us in the form of the tree canopy and thick foliage is thinning. When we notice trees getting hacked for unconvincing reasons mainly with a don’t-care attitude, all our talk about passive cooling that is being written for several weeks now seems a contradiction to what we otherwise are doing – creating heat islands and not cool cities.
While passing by a road, if there is a road block for cutting a tree, what would you do? Mostly we take the diversion and dash off to our destination. In this case, one felt like pleading with the site owner (who had requested for cutting the tree) checking how happier the neighbours will be without the tree and arguing with the officials about the whole system that lets people get the trees cut.
All that one could do was to photograph this great tree-cutting ceremony, gleefully watched by many people including the officials who appeared individually concerned, but had to follow the orders of the higher ups. It pains that one hour of arguments just went in vain.
After a year long effort with repeated applications and official refusals by the forest department inspectors, the owner was finally proud that he could get the local politicians to support his plea for cutting the tree. What was most hurting was to realize that there was no serious reason to cut it off, except that the roots of 50 year old tree were affecting the sanitary lines of his 20 year old house. It could have been simply solved by an RCC screen wall between the tree and the house to stop the roots growing towards the house. Instead, imagine cutting off the tree itself! Interestingly, we all claim to compensate for our wrong doing, like the house owner in this case assuring to grow fresh trees in front of the house. With the kind of urban life we all live in, with no time to stop by to look at how the leaves of a tree look like, with no mechanism to ensure that the sapling will grow undisturbed for 5 years and with the shallowness of the assurance to grow which follows the happiness to cut, we all know that replacing trees is easier said than done.
Quoting here from the 1854 speech of Chief Seattle may appear like an over reaction to cutting of one tree, nevertheless, these quotes do remind us about our possible destiny. “Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. The end of living and the beginning of survival.”
We may not be able to make our cities more green, but the least we can do is not to make it less green. If we can not solve the problem, at least, we should not add to the problem.