Your guide to tree-planting in Bangalore this season

Bengaluru has trees that flower through the year. Many a time one wonders how they can be a part of that whole system. How easy is it to plant trees and watch it grow? What are the requirements from departments involved? How are plant species selected? How did other citizens and groups go about tree planting?

Tree planting is a big step that needs planning and dedication, the Tree Planting Guide simplifies the process and you could add to one of the city’s trees.

How do we begin tree planting?

Planning is an integral part of tree planting, though the planting process make take a couple of hours and the nurture a few months to a year, the tree is a long-term addition and investment to our environment.

Preparation Study: It would be wise to examine the Comprehensive Development Plan of the area if the tree planting is planned in public spaces. Obtain approvals, if necessary. The proposed area should be studied beforehand to understand layout, soil, water availability, inhabitants and so on. Educate the local people nearby about the planting need, process, schedule and care. Choose the species with care based on its qualities.

Citizens planting saplings on the premises of Munnekola lake. Pic courtesy: Munnekola Lake Rejuvenation Team

Location and Spacing: In its full glory, a tree will have a canopy and roots so before planting consider the space above and below the ground. Do not place tall trees where high tension wires are running overhead and be aware of any underground pipes, cables, sewerage lines, building foundations etc.  Avoid places below electric cables except for bushes.

Plant medium sized trees at least 4 feet from each other and bigger ones at 8 feet from each other and 5 metres away from building foundations. Ensure that a grown tree will not obstruct traffic. Covered places are unsuitable for trees, bushes, smaller plants or climbers.

Time: The most suitable time is monsoon between June and September as the land is moist and the rain waters the plants. Moderate temperature and good rainfall are favourable for saplings to grow as they need time to root and acclimatise before summer’s heat and dryness or winter’s freezing temperatures.

Where should we get permission to plant trees, if we are planting around a lake?

If the area is in BBMP limits, you have to approach BBMP’s Forest Cell or local BBMP offices. The authority could even be Forest Department, Minor Irrigation Department, Gram Panchayat etc for permission.

In BDA limit, you need to give a written request to BDA commissioner, who will direct the request to the Deputy Conservator of Forests in BDA. The DCF will forward it to Executive Engineer. The engineer will check whether the lake is properly fenced or not, is the lake is rejuvenated etc. Executive Officer will forward it to the concerned officer who will go to the lake and check the feasibility of plantation. After taking inputs from everyone, the DCF has to approve it.

BDA typically does not give permissions to plant trees if it is not fenced. It is better to get the permissions first and then take up the plantation drive.

How is a tree plantation drive financed?

Sometimes the drives are self-funded by the volunteers. Some companies are willing to spend their CSR money for such initiatives. BBMP can also provide help as required, with proper co-ordination. Alternatively, when BBMP undertakes tree plantation drives, citizens and groups from the area can get involved and help sustain the saplings.

Why is it better to have self-funded / crowd-funded tree plantation drives?

Most tree plantation drives conducted by BBMP so far are known to have been done without taking local people into confidence. Recent submission by the BBMP to court gives a figure of more than 10 lakh trees planted in Bangalore, while even 40% of them have not survived. The money spent in such cases becomes a waste.

Also, when someone finances a plantation drive, they do not want to see it go waste, hence the community will be involved in the protection of the trees planted. The survival rate would improve, while the official expenditure using taxpayers’ money becomes nil.

What do you need when you want to plant a tree?

  • The equipment to dig the pits, like crowbar, mumties, baskets etc.

  • Protective gloves, masks etc for citizen volunteers, if required.

  • Fresh garden soil if the soil is not good

  • Little manure to provide initial nutrition

  • Tree guards – metal or wooden

  • Arrangements to water the plant as required.

How do we go about tree planting?

Method: Pick the number, type and age of the saplings and separate them on the planting day and ensure sufficient watering facilities.

Do not dig holes which are too narrow and too deep as the former don’t have access to sufficient oxygen to ensure proper growth and with the latter the root structure can’t expand sufficiently to nourish and properly anchor the trees. Generally, do not transplant trees deeper than the soil in which they were originally grown. The width of the hole should be at least three times the diameter of the root ball or container or the spread of the roots (in the case of bare root trees) to provide the tree with enough worked earth for its root structure to establish itself.

Preferred pit sizes: Normal plantation: 30X30X30 cm / Roadside plantation: 45X45X45 cm

Planting Pattern:  Line, Square, Triangular and Quincunx planting

Care: Care for the saplings until they reach a certain age and height. Saplings 7-10 feet high have been proven to have a higher survival rate. Although lakhs of saplings are planted annually, a lucky few blossom as big trees. Once the rains cease, water the saplings regularly, protect them from cattle, rodents and insects and given manure.

Some examples of tree plantation drives

Treesforfree (TFF) planted 500 saplings on the JP Nagar Ring Road median in 2008-’09 while Let’s Integrate For Environment (LIFE) planted 350 trees at Jadegenahalli in 2008.

Munnekolala lakes group planted 600 trees with the help of funding from United Way of Bengaluru, while the saplings were given by BBMP Lakes Department. This was done on June 14, 2014.

Citizens’ groups in Vidyaranyapura including Corporators gathered and planted 250 trees and 100 flower plants in Narsipura-2 lake on Sunday, June 15, 2014. The Corporator of the ward helped with the permission. Citizens who turned up in large numbers dug the pits and planted the trees. BBMP staff helped the citizens.

SayTrees.org recently planted more than 600 saplings, 8 feet tall and above, more than 20 species, in Kasavanahalli Lake.

Where can we get help?

Bangalore has several experienced individuals and organisations that can guide you in your tree planting efforts.

People who need help with tree-planting can contact Kapil Sharma of SayTrees.org on kapil.097@gmail.com

Lets Integrate For Environment

Some endangered plant species seen in Western Ghats are available at the FRLHT, Yelahanka. Contact Ganesh Babu – 9900239450.

Others working tree planting near lakes: Vikas lakes team, Friends of Lakes, Save Bangalore Lakes group

Which trees can be planted where?

Depending on where the trees are being planted and what additional value of the tree is sought the species needs to be chosen. Local trees that bear flowers and/or fruit that will additionally attract birds and butterflies, and trees that are suited to dryland areas that do not take up much water, or are reasonably resistant to dry spells are ideal to plant.

Some examples of trees planted around lakes:

Trees planted around Mestripalaya – https://sites.google.com/site/puttenahallilakeonline/lake-resources/lake-articles/trees-for-avian-bio-diversity

Narsipura Lake planting plan – https://sites.google.com/site/puttenahallilakeonline/lake-resources/lake-articles/narasipura-lake-planting-plan
Planting suggestions at Puttenahalli Lake – https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8NC6TnaIwLiZmRmYmRjeXVROFU/edit

A list Dr. Harini Nagendra prepared recommends various trees that can be planted on lake bunds and other areas.

Small spaces

Gobbara gida, Kakke mara, Honge

Medium spaces

Neem, Honge, Indian almond, Subabul, Bilvadapatre

Large sized spaces

Bauhinea, Bombax (silk cotton), Champaka, Mango, Amla, Sithaphal, Jackfruit, Tamarind, Athi mara, Goni mara

Keystone species at lake gates or in large corners

Peepal and Banyan

Trees that can be planted in vacant areas around the lake, as provided by Dr Subbu Subrahmanya, Bangalore’s own environmentalist.

Common Name

Scientific Name

Red Silk Cotton (Buruga)

Bombax ceiba

Flame of the forest (Muthuga)

Butea monosperma*

Indian Coral Tree (Harivana)

Erythrina indica/verigata

Erythrina (Mullu muruku)

Erythrina suberosa

Gliricidia

Gliricidia_sepium*

Indian Cork Tree (Birate mara /Aakasha Mallige)

Millingtonia hortensis

Badminton ball tree

Parkia biglandulosa

White Silk Cotton (Kaduburuga)

Cochlospermum gossypium

Scarlet-Sterculia

Firmiana colorata

Neem (Bhevu)

Azadirachta indica*

Peepul (Aarali Mara)

Ficus religiosa

Ficus (Aathi hannu)

Ficus recemosa

Banyan (Goni Mara)

Ficus benghalensis

Jamun (Sanna Nerale Mara)

Syzygium cumini*

Jamun (Dodda Nerale)

Eugenia jambolana*

Mahua (Hippe)

Madhuca latifolia*

Madras thorn (Bettada Hunise)

Pithecellobium dulce*

Bamboo

Dendrocalamus strictus*

Pongamia (Honge)

Pongamia pinneta*

Amate Kai

Spondias pinnata*

* Trees whose products (leaves or fruits) are useful

Trees for foreshore plantation or in water submerged areas

Babul (Kari Jaali)

Acacia nilotica

Indian oak

Barringtonia acutangula

Indian willow (Neeranji)

Salix tetrasperma

Native Trees for Urban Spaces:

In this report submitted by S K Arun and S Prashanth under the guidance of Dr. Subramanya S and Sheshadri Ramaswamy, after a tree study was done around the city and trees have been classified according to the locations they can be planted at keeping in mind urban conditions, space available, aesthetics, canopy spread, growth pattern and the tree’s additional ecological value

For example:

Trees for Highway planting –National & State

Species

Value

Shorea roxburghii

Nectar, Dust & Pollution Control

Butea monosperma

Nectar, Dust & Pollution Control

Syzigium cumini

Nectar, Fruits

Terminalia arjuna

Nectar

Pterocarpus marsupium

Nectar

Holoptelia integrifolia

Fruits, Dust & Pollution control

Albizia lebbeck

Dust & Pollution control

Tamarindus indica

Nectar, Fruits

Terminalia bellirica

Nectar

Givotia rottleriformis

Dust & Pollution Control

Gyrocarpus americanus

Dust & Pollution Control

Ailanthus excels

Dust & Pollution Control

Melia dubia

Nectar,Fruits, Dust & Pollution Control

Justification

• Pollution control

• Shade giving/air cooling

• Tall trees

• Good canopy spread

• Absorption of solar radiation / vehicular glare

Trees for planting on narrow roads– 20 – 30 ft

Species

Value

Buchanania lanzan

Nectar,Fruits

Holarrhena antidysentrica

Nectar

Premna tomentosa

Nectar,Fruits

Bauhinia tomentosa

Nectar

Cochlospermum religiosum

Nectar

Gardenia latifolia

Nectar,Fruits

Gardenia gummifera

Nectar,Fruits

Lagerstroemia parviflora

Nectar

Memecylon umbellatum

Nectar,Fruits

Grewia spp.

Nectar,Fruits

Morinda pubescens

Nectar,Fruits

Tarenna asiatica

Nectar,Fruits

Cipadessa baccifera

Fruits

Breynia vitis-ideae

Fruits

Cordia myxa

Fruits

Erythrina suberosa

Nectar

Mundulea sericea

Nectar

Wrightia tinctoria

Nectar

Ixora pavetta

Nectar,Fruits

Dalbergia paniculata

Nectar

Capparis sepiaria

Nectar

Alangium salvifolium

Nectar,Fruits

Carissa carandas

Nectar,Fruits

Justification:

• Narrow bole

• Non buttressing

• Low height

• Aesthetically pleasing

• Non spreading canopies

The other tables include,

  • Trees for planting on medium width roads – 40 – 60 ft plus (Justification:  Moderately tall, Medium sized bole, Medium sized canopy)

  • Trees for planting in Gardens and public parks (Justification: Aesthetically pleasing, Shade giving, Ornamental leaves and canopies, Fragrant flowers, Flowering for about 8 months a year in a phased manner, Support butterflies and birds)

  • Heritage, long living and trees for gunduthopus (Justification: Long living trees and biologically important, Revive the concept of gunduthopus, Ready germplasm of rare species, Inculcate a love for nature amongst the people, Provide a gathering space for local communities to celebrate festivals,fairs and marketing agriproduce(Santhe))

  • Trees for general public

  • Bee flora for Gardens and woodlots

  • Trees with hollows for cavity nesting birds

  • Trees that sustain nectar feeders

  • Trees for Lake shore planting

  • Trees that have never been planted in cities
    Read more details of the study and trees listed under each category

Information sourced from:

1) Discussions involving Priya Ramasubban, Balasubramanian Thirunavukkarasu, Kapil, Vishwanatha and others, on SaveBangaloreLakes Google Groups.

2) PNLIT blogs

With inputs from Arathi Manay Yajaman.

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About Josephine Joseph 46 Articles
Josephine Joseph researches and writes on urban governance, civic and environmental issues in Bangalore City, from a 'citizen' point of view.

4 Comments

  1. We stay in jp nager 1st phase out neighbour is a joint commisioner he is not letting us plant trees near our house wen v question him he called police and they stop planting need urgent help if some 1 could help us

  2. And the neighbours to the Lake , Purva Riviera , They cut A 30 ft, 10 yr old Silver Oak Tree Opp. RAA Block into HALF saying it was bending and a threat. lol.
    Not even looking for a solution. These guys should be punished for the Crime.
    Can Anyone here HELP ????

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