BMC's Urban Forest: Miyawaki Trees In Mumbai Face Grim Fate

BMC's Urban Forest: Miyawaki Trees In Mumbai Face Grim Fate

6,043 trees transplanted across all wards; 4,444 plants died after transplantation

RUCHA KANOLKARUpdated: Friday, March 22, 2024, 10:58 PM IST
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As Mumbai grapples with its environmental woes, recent revelations by the Watchdog Foundation have brought to light a disturbing trend: the rapid decline of Miyawaki trees across the city. An in-depth analysis of transplantation efforts in Mumbai’s wards has unveiled a stark reality – out of 6,043 trees transplanted, 4,444 have failed to survive the transplant process.

Under the Right to Information Act, information from 24 BMC wards about the trees, paints a grim picture, particularly concerning the Miyawaki method, a Japanese technique for dense urban afforestation.

In A Ward, 636 trees were transplanted, with 361 succumbing post-transplantation. Similarly, B Ward witnessed 74 transplanted trees, resulting in 32 deaths. C Ward saw 13 transplanted trees, with 11 failing to survive. D Ward’s transplantation of 384 trees resulted in 319 deaths, while E Ward reported 636 transplanted trees, of which 418 died. F North Ward witnessed 966 transplanted trees, with a staggering 979 deaths.

F South Ward's 1,139 transplanted trees saw 629 deaths. G North Ward transplanted 504 trees, with 390 failing to survive, and G South Ward's 1,691 transplanted trees saw 1,305 deaths. Overall, these figures reflect a concerning trend, with an average mortality rate of 72.5% across all wards.

Godfrey Pimenta of the Watchdog Foundation said, "The data reveals that while the number of trees planted under the Miyawaki method is significant, traditional trees outperform them in survival, height, and shade provision. The BMC should prioritise planting more locally adapted traditional trees over creating urban forests. Miyawaki forests primarily benefit nearby residents and garden visitors, with limited citywide impact. Considering the ongoing challenges of increasing construction and pollution, there’s a need to assess the necessity for a greater number of trees throughout the city."

Superintendent of the BMC’s gardens department, Jitendra Pardeshi, stated, "We are in the process of verifying the data. Citywide, we have planted 5,72,000 trees and are maintaining the same. The number of plants that have died since the plantation will be confirmed and shared shortly."

The high mortality rate of Miyawaki trees raises questions about their adaptability to Mumbai's environmental challenges. The BMC has set targets to plant four lakh trees under urban forests at 64 locations across the city, focusing on large flowering and shade-giving trees, bamboo, palm, ground cover, grasses, ferns, creepers, climbers, and shrubs.

The sustainability of these initiatives hinges on addressing the underlying issues contributing to tree deaths, including pollution and increasing temperatures. According to data from the gardens department, there are a total of 5,72,000 Miyawaki trees across all 24 wards of Mumbai.

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