With the near instant dissemination of information and news via modern technology, there is now an ever-increasing consciousness or awareness about the imminent dangers of climate change and global warming. Trees are vital to everyone’s existence. One of the greatest causes of this global tragedy is the indiscriminate destruction of the planet’s green cover. Thus, it follows that one of the easiest ways to rectify this situation is by boosting the earth’s green cover.
According to an independent research, it has been estimated that there are nearly 3 trillion mature trees in the world today. For your planet to function in a balanced manner without extreme changes in the climate and weather, to prevent natural disasters and for the wellness of all living beings on earth, we must look after our existing forests and plant more trees. It is absolutely vital that we preserve the woodlands, trees, and rainforests in our urban settings, for instance, the lakes and parks that are the lung spaces in our congested urban jungles.
To that end, here are some widely prevalent myths about tree plantation that need to be busted, in order for the situation to normalise.
1. Plantations & Natural Forests are the Same Thing
Forest cover is assessed based on the information and interpretation of that information provided by satellite data. Now, distinguishing between plantations and natural forests is extremely hard because both of look the same in such data, which is why there is an urgent requirement for accurate data collection mechanisms in order to assess actual forest cover.
2. Trees Require Lots of Water, Particularly Around their Trunks
Contrary to popular opinion, the amount of water a tree requires is in no way proportional to its size. In fact, they use very little water. They possess the ability to absorb as much as 30% of rainfall from their roots while they can deflect or catch close to 30% more in their canopies, thus decreasing erosion of soil as well as storm-water runoff.
Another thing to keep in mind, especially while watering a tree is that the trunk should remain dry. Also, intense and heavy watering is needed for the feeder roots in order to be able to penetrate eighteen to thirty six inches beneath the surface of the ground.
Furthermore, even if mature trees may appear to survive without additional irrigation, it is imperative to water them during a drought, so as to make up for the low rainfall.
Most urban foresters will testify that more trees drown than die of drought, and this is result of overwatering. Watering must be done during long dry spells, especially if windy or hot and dry climates are dominant. A huge, newly planted tree requires only 10 gallons of water a week in dry weather – the equivalent of two flushes of a toilet.
3. All That is Green is Good
It is a common misconception that all trees or vegetation are good and can only help the environment by bringing down the levels of carbon-dioxide and mitigating the effects of air pollution. That, however, is not entirely true. It is the context that determines how useful or beneficial a tree can be to the environment. For instance, a plant that is not indigenous to a particular place has the potential cause a heavy imbalance in that area’s ecology. Foreign species of plants can severely impact the soil systems of a particular geographical by destroying the already existing symbiotic relationships and processes and causing the depletion of endemic fauna.
4. Trees Flourish in the Forest without Maintenance, So No Maintenance is Necessary in my Garden Either
While it is true that trees in forests grow and flourish without any particular maintenance or care by humans, the same does not hold true for the ones you grow in your yard or garden. “Why”, you ask? This is because, unlike trees growing naturally in the forests, trees, or any vegetation, for that matter, growing in urban areas have added stressors to deal with, such as confined and cramped spaces, pollution, limited rooting areas, concrete and asphalt, dry soil or badly compacted soil etc. So, if anything, urban or city trees have the shorter end of the stick, which is why they need extra care and maintenance.
5. Wrapping Trunks of Freshly Planted trees with Tree Wrap Helps in preventing Sun-scalding and Keeps Insects at Bay
Contrary to this misguided notion held by many people, a number of studies have found that using tree wraps does not, in fact, prevent or alleviate extreme temperature fluctuations on the tree’s bark. What is worse that in some cases it has even been found to worsen the scalding of the tree’s bark from the sun. Moreover, tree wraps have also been found to be useless against keeping insects at bay. What’s more? It has come to light that many a time, insects even burrow under the tree wrap.
6. Trees can Heal their Wounds
Contrary to this common misconception, trees do not possess the ability to heal their damaged tissue. The way their system defends itself is by sectioning off damaged areas from healthy areas by way of a mechanism called compartmentalization. The process of compartmentalization makes sure that the damaged tissue is cordoned off and isolated within the tree itself, for the rest of its natural life. Thus, it’s a false concept to think it’s okay to harm trees as they will heal themselves. This is why it’s vital to exercise caution while using equipment like lawnmowers around trees so as not to harm them.
7. Pruning is Good for Your Trees
Pruning is actually a strict no-no while planting trees as at that stage, it will actually do the tree more harm than good. It perfectly okay, recommended even, that you prune your tree in order to balance its crown, but only after it is properly established. By pruning the roots to fit them into containers, you only make it more difficult for the tree to produce the energy it requires to adapt to its new environment and match its crown.
That is not to say, of course, that trees should not be pruned at all. All that you need to do is get the timing right. They do need to be pruned, and regularly, at that. For instance, pruning trees during the first three years, in order to maintain structural integrity will do away with the requirement for corrective pruning and rectification at a later stage of the tree’s life.
Pruning, however, must be done sparingly, and only on a need-to basis, such as when their limbs grow old, become dead, deformed, damaged or diseased. In fact, it has been found that a number of fruit trees actually respond to dormant pruning, and consequently helps boost the production of fruits
Another advantage of pruning is that pruning the top of the tree can bring down the amount of water that the tree loses through evaporation from its leaves. It is advisable, however to restrict pruning at the time of planting the tree to the removal of damaged branches and any other structural requirements as having a fuller crown will ensure that the tree develops a wider and stronger root system. Also, the tree will need a full crown in order to produce the plant hormones and food that are essential and crucial for the growth of its roots.
8. Planting Your Tree Deep will Ensure that the Roots Grow Deeper
This is an extremely dangerous misconception that a lot of people have. You are not doing your tree any favours by planting it deeper. As a matter of fact, all it does it kill your tree because in the process of planting it deeper, you actually end up burying a significant part of its trunk that is obviously meant to remain only above the ground. As long as you have planted your tree in an area where the soil goes down several feet below the actual surface and one that is well drained, the roots of your tree will grow deep into the soil in order to provide the tree with proper nourishment. It is sometimes best to not meddle to much with the natural order of things and just let nature take its course.
9. Topping is Beneficial to Trees
Topping is, undoubtedly, one of the worst things you could do to your tree. As a matter of fact, topping is actually only second to planting your tree too deep, in being the main cause behind the decline or death of trees as not only is it a practice that is heavy on the pocket, but it also puts a lot of strain on the trees and makes them weal, and consequently, a safety hazard. The process of topping is one of the core causes of tree decline and death and must be strictly not practiced. This practice often leads to weak and stressed trees that are expensive to maintain in the long run.
Now, in the beginning, you might be under the impression that topping decreases the potential danger, and while it may seem so at first, that is most certainly not the case. In fact, topping your tree will only make it more of a hazard or danger in the future, as it encourages the growth of twigs below the cuts that you have made, and the growth of numerous such shoots results in branches that have weak attachments.
Additionally, it also leads to the spread of decay inside the branches and stubs that have been topped. What’s more? Topping can actually ruin the aesthetic appeal of your garden’s landscape as it makes your trees look extremely ugly. Instead of topping, we suggest that you adopt methods such as cabling, thinning, or even the complete removal and consequent replacement of the tree with a species of plant that is better suited to your garden’s environment. Also decay spreads inside the stubs and branches that were topped.
10. More Green is Always Better
If you believe this, you could not be more wrong. As with most things in life, here too, moderation is key. India’s topography is as diverse as its inhabitants, maybe, even more so. For instance, certain parts of the Indian subcontinent, such as the Deccan plateau are the natural environment of deciduous forests that shed their leaves during the summer months, and are consequently very efficiently able to deal with the dry weather during droughts.
Thus, not only do these deciduous forests, help their ecosystem by adapting themselves to the climate and consuming less water during the summer months, but they also enhance the quality of the soil by shedding their leave sand adding to the organic matter of the soil.
Hence, removing these trees and replacing them with evergreen trees will not just severely harm the ecosystem of these deciduous forests by leading to the depletion of groundwater levels, but also deprive the land of the nutrient rich organic matter from the fallen leaves that it would have otherwise had.
Via partnerships with vetted organizations, Nelda enables individuals to plant a tree in their name in diverse parts of the world. Corporates searching to make a change can indulge in corporate tree planting as part of sustainable environmental practices in the workplace.
11. The Ten for One Principle
What most people do not understand is that the ten for one principle that propounds that for every tree that is cut, ten more need to be planted in order to replace it, is only trying to drive home the point that replacing a mature tree is extremely difficult, which is why it should not be cut at all. It does not mean that the ten new trees will replace the function or value of the one that has been cut.
12. Cutting a Tree is Better Than Relocating it
In furtherance of the point made above, it is time we got rid of this extremely incorrect notion. It is important to note that the time taken by a new tree to mature cannot be regained, and is, well, a lot. This is why it makes much more sense to relocate a mature tree rather than cutting it and removing it completely in order to replace it with a new one.
13. All Vacant Land is Barren Land
This is another myth or notion that it imperative that we dispel. WE must understand that not all vacant lands are barren lands. In fact, vacant lands, especially those that flourish seasonally with to the annual or biennial trees actually play an extremely important role in nurturing many kinds of insects and other organisms that help in sustaining and maintaining a balance in the food chains. Thus, replacing such grassy habitats or wetlands with trees may cause severe imbalance and harm to the area’s natural ecosystem.
14. Staking Trees after Planting them makes them Stronger
On the contrary, trees that are not staked after planting are actually stronger as standing tall against the wind strengthens them. A healthy young tree has should have no requirement for staking at all, in the first place. It is only poor nursery practices that compel us to stake them at a later point in time. Of course, there are exceptions to this. A place that is extremely windy, would require its plants or trees to be staked, but even in such cases, it is recommended that the stake is removed within a time frame of six to twelve months.
Most times tree stakes are installed and then forgotten about which can lead to root grinding as the tree grows. Improperly installed stakes can also decrease the natural sway of the trunk necessary for good taper and strong wood.
15. More Mulch is Better
This one is seriously an extremely dangerous myth as not only is more mulch not good for the tree, it is, in fact, fatal to its very existence and survival, particularly, when you in your misguided generosity, make “mulch volcanoes”, which result in welcoming unwanted insects and rot. Instead of collecting mulch and bark chips in a mound around the base of the trunk, we recommend that you spread it out evenly over a wider surface area.
Moreover, trees don’t need regular fertilizer either as they only get about ten percent of their energy from the soil, while they get 90% of it from the sun. Also, as mulches go, organic ones, like those made of tree leaves are the best. Mulch is vital as it suppresses weeds, retains moisture and secures the roots against extreme temperatures. however, nearly 2 to 3 inches of mulch is more than enough for a tree to thrive. Excessive amounts of mulch can prevent soil aeration and moisture.
16. You Must Brace the Tree Tightly after Planting it
As with humans, in the case of trees too, tight bracing can lead to girdling, suffocation or the growth of tree over the brace, which is not at all good. If required, though, the tree can be braced loosely, but the same must be removes once the tree is established properly.
17. It is Best to Buy the Largest Nursery Tree You Can Afford
Bigger is not always better, especially when you are still learning how to care for your trees. To this end, it would be much more practical to first buy a specimen tree as it will not just grow faster but also be healthier long term.
18. You can Create a “tap root” by Planting Trees in Round and Deep Holes
Contrary to this rather misguided belief or myth, deep holes can actually kill a tree by burying the root crown and causing root rot. What you must do instead is dig as wide a hole as possible, and plant the tree only as deep as soil in the root ball. Most deep “tap roots” eventually perish from want of oxygen.
19. When Planting a Tree, You Must Amend the Soil
It is important to note that amending the soil is akin to planting your tree in a pot. You need to remember that healthy tree roots need to grow out and away from the planting hole, no matter how poor the soil in which it is planted is. To this end, you can scuff up the sides of a square hole, while replacing only the excavated soil. Also, remember to provide three to four inches of mulch around the surface after planting, whilst leaving a 4 inch gap at the trunk.
20. Evergreen Trees Don’t Lose their Leaves
Another common misconception or myth that is widely prevalent among people is that evergreen trees do not lose their leaves. Needless to say, this is not at all true. In fact, while deciduous trees lose all their leaves once a year, evergreen trees generally lose them all year round. So, do not make the mistake of choosing an evergreen tree with its supposed lack of litter as a consideration.
21. Fruitless Trees are Less Trouble
This is another myth that is widely prevalent. In fact, fruitless trees tend to have more male flowers than fruit bearing trees, resulting in huge amounts of wind-blown pollen instead of fruit. This is something you must be aware of especially if you have allergies.
Phew! That was a lot of myth-busting! But then, saving the environment is an ongoing battle, and true to our name, we, at Nelda, are champions of this noble and worthy cause. Arming oneself with data and knowledge about growing and looking after the trees that are already there and planting new ones will go a long way in leading to environmental change.
It is a core facet of protecting our environment and reducing the impacts of climate change, but also encouraging both fauna and flora to flourish, as they should, naturally. We at Nelda understand that working for the environment is everyone’s responsibility.
So, if you are looking to conduct or participate in a tree plantation drive in Pune, we can be your best companion! Reach out to us now.
Let’s heal the world and make it a better place. Together. One day at a time. With Nelda, proper tree planting and tracking is one click away.