Nod not needed for light tree pruning: New guidelines draw flak from greens

  • | Tuesday | 7th November, 2023

GURGAON: The forest departments new guidelines for pruning trees allow agencies and urban local bodies to trim branches up to 25cm wide without needing approval from a tree officer or the forest department. Residents can approach MCG or the discom for pruning. If heavy pruning is required for branches with a girth greater than 25cm, the departments permission is necessary, and the job can only be carried out by forest officials, the new norms state.The decision to leave light pruning entirely in the hands of urban local bodies has drawn flak for environmentalists. Pruning is a specialists job and municipal corporations dont have people with the right skill set for it, which might end up in long-term damage to trees in a city which needs much more, not less of them, with air pollution a constant reminder of the environmental challenge, they said.According to the guidelines, which were released to the public last week, the purpose of pruning trees is to remove dangerous or obstructive branches that may hinder traffic or affect the overall health and structure of the tree. Pruning will be done by a cut that begins just outside the branch bark ridge (the raised area where the branch and trunk meet) and angles down away from the stem of the tree. To avoid injury to the branch collar (the trunk tissue around the base of a branch), the cut will be made as close as possible to the stem in the branch axel, but outside the branch bark ridge. This will ensure that stem tissue is not injured, and the wound can heal in the shortest possible time, said the order by Jagdish Chandra, Haryana principal chief conservator of forests, on October 20.Only hand pruner, pruning saw, pole pruner and chainsaw will be used for the pruning of trees. Use of axes for pruning is strictly prohibited. The application of chemicals such as fungicides will be done on cut portions or wounds to avoid potential infection of insect, fungi and other pathogens, the order stated.Long and heavy branches will be cut in sections. The first cut will be a shallow notch on the underside of the branch, outside the branch collar. This cut will prevent a falling branch from tearing the stem tissue as it pulls away from the tree. The second cut will be outside the first cut, all the way through the branch, leaving a short stub. The stub will be then cut just outside the branch bark ridge/branch collar.Residents and environmentalists questioned the capability of civic bodies to handle pruning. This is a death knell for trees, as the new guidelines allow people to start pruning any tree. Who will check the girth of branches before pruning? Also, when the region is witnessing so much pollution, why are pruning guidelines being loosely framed? Looking at the current situation, there should be a ban on pruning in the region, said Vaishali Chandra, an environmental activist.The government has made no efforts to increase the citys green cover over the years, and now it again has given a free hand to incompetent civic agencies to prune trees, said Vivek Kamboj, a city-based environmentalist.Haryanas forest cover has been stagnant for two decades. In 2005, the states forest cover was 1,604sqkm, while it was 1,603sqkm in 2021, according to the Forest Survey of India (FSI).

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