Gorewada zoo takes up transplantation of trees

Nagpur: Perhaps for the first time in the country, the Maharashtra government has launched tree transplantation project to develop wildlife habitat for animals to be displayed in Indian Safari at proposed Gorewada international zoo.

“Though there has been tree transplantation efforts for various projects elsewhere in the country, this is for the first time that such an initiative has been launched for developing wildlife habitat,” said JP Tripathi, regional manager, FDCM.

The pilot project to translocate 200 trees is being implemented by state-owned Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM), which is developing the zoo. The corporation has roped in Bengaluru-based VE Commercial Vehicles Limited to accomplish the task.

“If found successful, at least 5,000 more trees, which are needed to develop wildlife habitat for Indian Safari, will be translocated. Though the actual operational cost of transplanting trees per month comes to Rs15 lakh (Rs50,000 per day), Volvo is charging Rs7.50 lakh (Rs25,000 per day) from FDCM. This excludes GST,” Tripathi said.

He added that the cost is not much if one compares it with various costs involved in new plantations. Besides, new saplings will take 10-15 years to grow as trees. “In transplantation, you are readily getting a 20-year-old tree,” he said.

FDCM has signed a one month contract with the Sweden-based company for Volvo tree transplanter. The cost of the machine is Rs5 crore and in the country there are only two such machines — one in operation at Gorewada and another in Ranchi in Jharkhand.

Though FDCM has signed pact to transplant 200 trees, in the last 20 days, only 54 trees could be transplanted at the proposed slot bear safari enclosure site. Tripathi said in normal course, where soil quality is good, the machine takes hardly 30 minutes to transplant a tree but at proposed Gorewada site, soil strata is hard and therefore it is taking an hour to uproot and transplant a tree.

“We are first transplanting trees suitable for wildlife. This way we are actually saving trees, which were to be felled with valid permission for various safari attractions. Another idea is to first create a tree cover in enclosures as once animals are released, it would be difficult to plant trees,” said divisional manager Nandkishore Kale.

Volvo’s project manager Shiv Kumar Agarwal, who is monitoring the operation, said the company has transplanted over 1,200 trees in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh and the survival rate is 82-85%.

 During a site visit on Tuesday, TOI found that leaves of transplanted trees were withering. “The leaves go dry due to physiological shock. The tree rejuvenates in three months after regular watering. Besides, for success, we select trees with 120cm girth (20-year-old) where we could get one-thirds of roots. As big trees are deep-rooted, translocation has failed in the past,” Agrawal said.
 What Agarwal said may be true as former Nagpur municipal commissioner T Chandrashekhar had transplanted many trees that were felled in road widening but none survived.
 According to FDCM sources, the Gorewada transplantation project has come as a golden opportunity for the commercial corporation to tap business in near future. “FDCM was even approached by NHAI, the biggest tree feller for road widening, to go for transplantation of trees under turnkey projects. With this pilot project, we plan to tap commercial market by tying up with Volvo,” they said.
Date: 6 Dec 2017