Palm trees are not actually trees, they are in the grass family. Did you know that Palm Trees are not native to Delhi? You must have noticed them planted outside malls, hotels, inside parks, gated communities and even outside a few houses around the city. They don’t provide much shade, don’t have branches for wildlife to make nests and no flowers or fruit to feed the local fauna.
Given Delhi’s high intensity heat and pollution problems, we must refrain from planting Palms. Many authorities have fooled the public by saying they are planting native trees, and they have gone ahead and planted palms as a compensation for killing big healthy sacred Peepal or Banyan trees. This usually happens when somebody travels to Dubai and sees Palms planted everywhere, so they come back and feel like planting Palms in a city which is unsuitable for this tall grass confused to be a tree.
Similarly, some architects travel to higher latitudes in other countries and see tall glass buildings, which is required in cold climates to allow heat to enter the building. Unfortunately, they copy those ideas of glass buildings in some of the hottest climates on the planet, and then they require more than 10 times the amount of air conditioning. This is a very common sight in Delhi NCR.
Native trees of Delhi have more foliage, so they are better at combating heat and air pollution. They also grow easily since they are genetically suitable for Delhi’s environment conditions whereas Palms require high maintenance. Native trees also provide food and shelter for wildlife which is very important in todays time, since humans have destroyed most of the environment, making it uninhabitable for other creatures. Many adults forget about the food cycle, and biodiversity required to sustain human living conditions. Removing flora and fauna causes devastating effects to human health and well being.
The soil is desi, wildlife is desi, humans here are desi, so even the plants need to be desi. People living near the equatorial area will not be comfortable to survive in polar regions. Similarly, people living in igloos will not be able to survive the extreme heat of Delhi.
Anytime you see palm trees planted anywhere in Delhi, just remember that the people who planted them have a very poor understanding of this plant or they are purposely trying to fool the public. In the East Kidwai Nagar redevelopment, many healthy beautiful native trees full of wildlife were chopped away to spread cement all over the soil. Then they planted palms as a compensation, and very soon the plants started dying. They also planted other species on the main road as compensatory plantation, and guess what, most of them dried and died because thousands of crores were spent on this construction and they could not afford to hire somebody to water the plants.
Some horticulture officials from DDA, SDMC, NDMC have literally been planting palms everywhere only for the sake of decoration. For your kind information, Delhi has a deficit of approximately, 9,00,000 trees, which were supposed to be planted for compensatory afforestation for the trees which were cut with permission. There are many more trees which were cut down or fell down for various reasons, and there is no calculations for them and therefore there will not be any compensatory afforestation for them either.
The monsoons are the best time to plant trees. Many organisations use this opportunity to break world records to plant millions of trees in the matter of a few minutes. Just to show it on paper, and to make money. Many of these plantations only existed on paper, and when the site was checked, it was found that there was never any plantation there. A lot of these plantations are forgotten about from the day they get planted, therefore without any care, the plants die within a few days or weeks. So, while planting a sapling, one must ensure that the plant will be watered nicely for at least a couple of years, then only it will have a chance to survive.
Some of the species of plants which should be planted in Delhi are :
Delhi Forest Department Nurseries give saplings for free, everybody should try to grow at least 1 tree outside their home. Over the years, the tree will grow with the children in the family and will provide your family with oxygen, reduce air pollution, keep your home cool and invite beautiful wildlife.