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No Arborists Just When You Need Them

MMRCL began cutting trees despite having no arborist on board to oversee the operation. Singapore-based Rick Thomas and Mumbaikar Vaibhav Raje, who was attached to MMRCL, have both left – Thomas in June 2018 and Raje in August this year.

 In an email to Mumbai Mirror, Thomas, director of consulting firm Arbor-Culture, confirmed that his contract with MMRCL had expired. “It [his contract] was in operation for one year and MMRCL has not approached me for extension or renewal,” he said. 

In June 2017 MMRCL claimed that it had appointed Singapore-based arborist Simon Leong to oversee a tree management plan for the Colaba-SEEPZ Metro 3 project – a claim Leong denied. MMRCL then hired Thomas, who, it claimed, visited all sites and conducted training workshops for contractors. 

Raje was associated with the Metro 3 project from 2015. “I was on a contract with MMRCL and after August this year, I’m no longer working with them,” he said, refusing to comment further. 

Raje, a graduate in horticulture from the Dr Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth in Dapoli, is the only arborist in the city with a qualification from the International Society of Arboriculture in the US. 

Green activists said felling and transplanting trees without consulting arborists was not advisable. “MMRCL is in a hurry to cut the trees. This is when arborists are required. The survival rate of transplanted trees is poor. MMRCL should have taken on board top arborists before felling the trees,” said activist Zoru Bathena.

An official from the BMC’s Garden Department said the trees would be cut under the supervision of horticulturists appointed by the MMRCL. “We have been told that the contractors appointed by the MMRCL have horticulturists on board and the MMRCL also has a horticulturist. But beyond that we don’t know if they have any arborists,” he said. 

When contacted SK Gupta, Director, Works, MMRCL, said he did not want to comment on the issue and asked Mumbai Mirror to get in touch with the PR team.

Vaidehi More, PR consultant with MMRCL, did not respond to calls and text messages. 


source:- https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/no-arborists-just-when-you-need-them/articleshow/71461165.cms

Trees should be considered from Day Zero of the project planning stage, not the construction stage: Vaibhav Raje

Vaibhav Raje, the only arborist in the city with a qualification from the International Society of Arboriculture in the US, and on contract with Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) till August this year, tells The Indian Express that development projects should incorporate as many high-value trees as possible within the site from the design stage Vaibhav Raje, the only arborist in the city with a qualification from the International Society of Arboriculture in the US, and on contract with Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) till August this year, tells The Indian Express, that development projects should incorporate as many high-value trees as possible within the site from the design stage, but refused to comment on any other aspect of the Aarey controversy or his own role at MMRCL. Raje runs ‘Treecotech’ in Mumbai for providing arboriculture services in India.

Is planting two new trees for every tree cut enough? Please comment on the survival rate of transplanted trees and the mechanism to be followed to increase the survival rate.

I feel that we are more focused on the outcome rather than the quality of the process required to reach those outcomes. The question you asked is of course important, but have we ever considered retaining high-value trees within our [development] projects in the first place? Do we ever talk about retaining trees or optimising the project from the design stage itself to incorporate as many high-value trees as possible within the site? Are trees being considered from Day Zero of the planning stage, and not the construction stage like always, so that the impact of construction on trees can be minimised and their benefits can be enjoyed even post-construction? Is there an ‘Arboricultural Impact Assessment’ stipulation in place for any infrastructure projects as a mandatory prerequisite prior to any approval? Is there a standard for ‘Root Protection Area’ of trees within a construction site for our cities or is there any planning legislation in place to impose such considerations on project owners locally or nationally? And lastly, do we have enough arboriculture experts and proactive people in the country to help us achieve this? Maybe this is what we need to focus on more now and perhaps also make the decision-makers aware about this. Until we are able to improve our process standards and bring about a cultural change towards managing our existing trees, talking about compensatory plantation or transplantation techniques and its survival will take us nowhere because the damage would have already been done. When appropriate trees are selected for retention, removal and transplantation based on detailed arboricultural analysis and site factors, then one can discuss better techniques for transplantation and survival chances.

The Mumbai civic body trims trees annually ahead of monsoon. How often should trees be trimmed? Should they be trimmed at a particular time of the year only?

The timing and frequency of pruning the tree depend on case-to-case basis. Ideally, not more than 25-30 per cent of the tree canopy should be pruned over a year based on its species, size and age. Right pruning cuts at right places and ability to foresee the tree form in the next few years is also quite important. In most cases, the urban street trees of Mumbai that were planted many years ago, have now started to outgrow the space that they have. The overall sub-tropical climatic condition and average high humidity in Mumbai gives us a lot of room to consider pruning times for trees. However, one should avoid harsh summer for pruning as trees become more susceptible to damage from heat stress.

Even after annual tree trimming exercise was undertaken in Mumbai, the city witnesses tree-fall incidents and accidents, leading to injuries and deaths in few cases.

Our trees face a lot of urban challenges, like constrained below-ground space for root growth, frequent excavation near trees causing damage within the critical root zone areas, underground utilities limiting root growth, ground compaction or concretisation around trees etc. All these factors actually contribute directly towards structural & physiological stability of the tree and might also be one of the reasons for tree failures. Regarding tree trimming, there is some process in place but it seems there is still a lot of scope for improvement.

How can tree-falls be averted?

In addition to the training, better planning of future tree plantation in the city, selecting the right tree species for the right place, use of advanced planting technologies for urban street trees, conducting tree risk assessment as a preventive action by identifying any structural or physiological issues in trees early on could help improve the situation. These actions together may give us some chance to reduce tree fall cases, but one cannot avert it completely.

What is the guideline to be followed for tree audit? Is the present method scientific?

Tree Audit or Tree Risk Assessment can be beneficial only if our trees are treated as an asset and not a liability. Tree Audit can occur at several levels of intensity. An initial assessment may include a ‘walk-by’ or ‘drive-by’ where trees are assessed on the move and are broadly identified for any defects or concern. After identifying the problematic trees, a detailed individual visual tree assessment is carried out where each tree is assessed in detail and all findings are recorded. Appropriate remedial measures like pruning type & its intensity, cabling/bracing, soil rejuvenation, advanced diagnosis and investigation or, depending upon the circumstances and risks associated with the tree, even removal can be suggested at this stage. The next stage may include detailed advanced diagnosis or investigation of trees that may need more attention.


source:-  https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/trees-should-be-considered-from-day-zero-of-project-planning-stage-not-construction-stage-vaibhav-raje-6056808/

Concerns to Look at When Planting a Tree


The decision of planting a tree can be a quick one but when it comes to implementation, there are a lot of things that need to be looked at. The major factors that can affect your decision to plant a tree are as below:

Due to space limitations, one of the major concerns in today’s time is the tree safety. You need to find a place which will be a secure one for the tree and where the chances of damage are minimal. Trees are really helpful to cool down the space around them. They can provide shade which keeps the house cool, provided they are well placed as per the direction of the sunlight. This can lead to saving the cost of energy consumption. Generally, it would be a good idea to plant a deciduous tree towards the south side of your home, but then you have to see how your home is built and how the sunlight plays around it. Deciduous trees shed their leaves in winters, which will allow some sun in your home and prevent it from getting damp and cold. Even the wind direction can affect the trees.

Legal issues:
Apart from the location of the tree, you might also need to look out whether you will require BMC tree permission. If the tree is going to grow in the public property, you might need to get permissions from BMC who also have a role to play in planning and development of trees.

Everyone has their own choices of trees in terms of aesthetics. The tree has to match the landscape as well. Some people prefer having huge trees like oak and others might prefer small ones which can easily be pruned. There are trees which can have flowers as well. Contact Treecotech Arboriculture specialist to know about what options can you have. They will help you in understanding how much time it takes to grow them as well.

Synchronisation with local environment:
Note that when you plant a tree, it is not just about growing it as a stand-alone entity. It will communicate with, and affect plants and trees nearby it. Other elements of the ecosystem like squirrels, birds and other creatures will also be looking out for it. If you are aware of good tree care solutions, you will be able to provide a healthy home to these creatures as well. It is not just the creatures, but even the water quality is affected by tree plantation.

Safety Measures:
Apart from ensuring the tree safety, you should also ensure that the safety of humans living in that area is maintained. The tree should not obstruct any entry or exit paths. Growing plants at the entrance can look a bit obstructive for guests. Also, you need to see how high or low branches of the tree will be. If a lot of people walk nearby that area, the height of the tree will matter as well.
Before planting, it will be a great idea to get a consultation from an Arboriculture consultancy in India like Treecotech.


How to get a Tree Removed from Your Property

Arboriculture consultancy in india

Due to the increase in awareness about the trees and their importance, the government has changed regulations and have put a lot of rules in place to protect the trees. There could be some cases where BMC tree permission issues could clash with the intents of the owner of the property. Problematic situation could be when the tree is decaying or dead and the owner needs to get it removed but the government or council like BMC might not allow you to do so. In some situations, the case could be reversed as well. A tree can be a hazard sometimes and it those situations either the government needs to put proper signs or remove the tree altogether.

Whatever the case may be, the need for removing the tree can crop up which requires arboriculture knowledge. It has to be done by a certified arborist in India because the disposal of tree means safely disposing of the debris, brush and stumps.

The local city council like BMC will mark the tree if it has to be removed. If you see any such sign for the tree in your property, you can ask them about why the tree needs to be removed. 

After identification of the tree that has to be removed and getting the BMC tree permission, one of the following ways can be adapted: 

Hiring an Arboriculture consultancy in India:

This is the safest bet for you if you want to get a tree removed. Hiring a professional agency will also be advisable by the local city council. This may not necessarily mean that you can hire any consultancy. Most councils have contracts with certain specialists and you can get recommendations from them for the same. It is safer and cheaper to hire a consultancy through the council.

  1. You can let the city council manage this work. Chances are that this option will cost you much more since the council will leverage the bills on you. It will include the cost of the specialist as well as the administrative cost. This method is used by the Municipal corporation itself if the owners do not take the appropriate action on time. 
  2. DIY: Probably the riskiest thing to do is to try removing the tree all by yourself. It is unsafe not just for the people or property around the tree, but also for other trees/plants nearby. If the tree that is removed has a disease, then it needs to be debarked. You would also not know much about the safety procedures for tree specialist. The empty space created after removal of the tree needs to be filled with sod and all this might have to be done within the deadline given by the local council.

If there is any tree which you think has caught a disease, you should immediately refer to a tree specialist in India. They can themselves do a survey of the trees on your property or they can guide you on how to hire an expert for a tree survey. Once you get in touch with experts like that, the need and procedure of removal of the tree will be their headache to look into.

What is Arboriculture All About?

In short and precise terms, Arboriculture is all about the study of growing and maintaining trees, shrubs and other kinds of plants. It is a science as well as an art form which needs practice. Arboriculture knowledge is very useful from a career point of view and also for personal use.

The Arboriculture training basically teaches how to manage the trees and how do they respond with the change in the environmental factors so that this knowledge and other techniques can be used to nurture them nicely. After doing the Arboriculture training, a Certified arborist in India can:

  1. Make decisions about which plant is suitable for what location.
  2. Maintain the existing trees and plants so that they can grow and nurture. 
  3. Use appropriate fertilizers to keep plants and trees in good condition.
  4. Make use of the right kind of sprays for pest control.
  5. Do bracing and cabling. 
  6. Dispose of the tree ailments successfully. 
  7. Do pruning 
  8. Completely and safely remove and sometimes relocate the trees by following tree safety procedures.

Anyone who goes through a formal training through Arboriculture consultancy in India can be called as a certified Arborist in India. They possess not just the technical know-how of how to manage the trees, but also the physical strength to do the tasks themselves. Arborists are sometimes confused with the Landscapers. These two professions are a bit different. Landscapers can sometimes work as an Arborist, but generally, the Arborists have got more knowledge about the trees and the plants.

It will be helpful to add a pinch of the history of Arboriculture. This science is not a new field, it has been in existence since ancient times. As per the books of knowledge, Egyptians were able to transplant the trees by creating a ball of soil around them. The ball figure like structure is formed by soil around a newly planted tree so that it can retain water. In today’s time, we still follow practices like these. Texts have been found as old as 300 BC where the Greek Philosopher has written the techniques for treatment of the tree wounds and the Planning and development of trees.

Arboriculture is about taking care of the trees- either by yourself or with the help of Treecotech Arboriculture specialist. If the trees are taken care of, they grow healthy and look beautiful. They increase the value of the property they are grown in. If the landscape of the property is properly done and the trees, shrubs and plants are well maintained, it can add up to 20% value to the price. If they are not properly maintained, then it will have a negative effect and the cost of the maintenance will go high along with reduction in the aesthetic beauty of the place.  This is the reason why maintenance and arboriculture activities should be given in the hands of Treecotech Arboriculture specialists who are experienced and responsible to maintain the health of the trees to enhance the quality of the property.

Using the Foot Locking Technique of Climbing

Foot Locking is the methodology used for climbing

Foot Locking is the methodology used for climbing the canopies and is a popular one used for reaching to the heights of the trees. It is widely used by those who provide tree care solutions. It involves the use of tools like ropes etc. but the kind of gears have been changed over a period with the advancement in technology. The basic principle behind this technique is not to fix something which is not broken. There are a lot of tree safety measures which has come up regarding this technique, making it safer than it used to be. 

Use of hitching or the knot:

The climber can use any kind of hitch, the only requirement is that it should be able to hold the grip of the rope properly. Different kinds of knots or hitches are available these days and the most common type is called as Prusik. The hitch is not supposed to handle all the weight of the climber. Only when the climber needs a bit of rest or in case of emergency the hitch should be relied on. This will also ensure tree safety. The dependency on the hitch can be reduced by regular practice of foot locking technique so that the muscles can get used to it. There are standards of weight and strength of the hitch which should be followed. Note that the line of the hitch must be smaller as compared to the ascent line. This will help in making the grip better. The standard number of loops is three which forms a six-coil Prusik. More wraps will only make the climbing difficult but will be better for friction. These are some of the safety procedures for tree specialists.

The process of climbing:

The tree specialist in India might use the footlock method on the static lines. This means the load of their body is handled by the hitch. In the dynamic system, this is not what happens. For this reason, the Prusik or the secured footlock should be used while climbing only. While descending, this could prove to be a bit risky and may lead to a fall. Therefore, it is important to be aware of all safety procedures for tree specialist. Mind that the hands of the climber should always be below the hitch. By keeping hands lower, the climber can avoid accidentally holding the hitch which can ultimately lead to its complete release. It is a good way to avoid any sudden descent. 

Other methods to avoid falling is to look out for the bits of junk spread around the place. There will be some twigs, leaves, small pieces of branch which can get in between the ascent lines. Keep care of them while climbing. 

If you are looking forward to climbing a tree or canopy all by yourself, then give it a second thought. It might not be very safe for you and instead, you should hire a Treecotech arboriculture specialist.