Greens group to protest against amendment to Act

BANGALORE: Environmental groups and activists held a statewide protest to protest against the state forest department’s proposal to amend the Karnataka Tree Preservation Act, expanding the list of trees that are exempted from its purview.
At present, 11 tree species are exempted and do not require permission of the tree officer for felling. The Forest Department proposes to expand this list to 41.
The proposed list includes Aala (Ficus benghalensis, the national tree of India), Arali (Ficus religiosa, a sacred tree), Goni (Ficus mysorensis), Atthi (Ficus racemosa, the queen of trees) and three types of basari.
Ficus species are home to millions of birds and small mammals that feast on the figs and also act as insect controlling agents. Felling these trees will affect bird life and aid spread of pests, activists say.
“At a time when the state is reeling under the hottest summer ever recorded, one expects the government to take steps to restrain tree felling, increase protection to trees and aggressively promote tree planting drives,” said Bhargavi of Environment Support Group, which, along with Hasiru Usiru, isspearheading the campaign in Bangalore.
“The trees proposed to be exempted from the protection of the tree act include some of the most valuable species that support livelihoods of thousands of families that depend on their produce,” she added.

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