A couple of days back, there was a report on Bode Prasad, an MLA from Penamaluru in Andhra Pradesh, who translocated four peepal trees from the Vijayawada-Machilipatnam highway to Tadigadapa Bridge. He was commended and received a lot of praise, rightly so, on social media.
What if we told you that there’s another man from Andhra Pradesh who has been doing the same for the better half of a decade and has translocated over 5,000 trees during this period? This is the story of Ramchandra Appari, an agriculturist from Hyderabad who has been translocating trees since 2010.
“One of my friends from Australia told me that the trees can be translocated. I saw that a lot of trees were cut down due to the Hyderabad- Vijaywada highway project. I thought there should be a solution to it. We tried to localise it with whatever knowledge we have and tried to fit that into our situation and that’s how we started to translocate trees,” says Appari.
Appari, 38, holds an M.Sc. in Agriculture and started Green Morning Horticulture Services Private Limited in 2010. His company came as a respite to many builders and developers, and more importantly to the environment as trees that were earlier cut in the name of development now could breathe for a longer time.
Since 2010, Appari and his team have successfully translocated more than 5,000 trees across 95 species. Builders are surprised when they meet Appari and realise that trees can be now translocated instead of being cut down completely. His clients include government officials, railways, private builders and construction companies as well. He has also successfully translocated trees for Southern celebrities like Mohan Babu and Pawan Kalyan as well.
So how does the process work? “First, we decide the diameter of the root ball that we have to dig. That depends on the size of the tree. After that, we remove 80% of the leaves on the tree and dig a hole around the tree. Then we pack the roots of the tree with gunny bags and plastic wires. We also use chemicals so that the tree is protected from diseases and fungus. Then the tree is loaded on a trailer and taken to the new place of plantation. Then we place it and replant it after which we take care of their growth daily,” says Appari.
Translocation is dependent on three factors: Size of the tree, number of trees and distance. Translocating one tree is costly but a large number of trees gets down the price drastically. In foreign countries, translocating is completely done by machinery it isn’t a feasible option in India. Imagine a tree being translocated on a trailer and then the overhead electric wires causing a ruckus or our well-built Indian roads adding more woes than helping out.
“Neem, tamarind and teak are a few trees that are difficult to translocate. Generally, the rule goes that the trees with very hard wood are difficult to translocate. Trees with hard wood have a survival chance of 60 to 70% whereas trees with softer woods have a survival rate of 80% to 90%. From a 10-year-old tree to a mammoth 150-year-old banyan tree, we have successfully translocated all kinds of trees,” says Appari.
In the initial years of establishment, they struggled to get clients and hardly did four projects in a year. They started approaching government officials and started raising more awareness about translocation of trees. Since 2015, they successfully translocated 2,500 trees.
“Cutting trees for development is a big cause of concern. Now we have an alternate to see that these trees are not. So translocation of trees is a very good option for urban cities where commercialization and urbanisation is a must. Today, I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction and I feel blessed to be connected to nature and the environment,” says Appari.