Leafing through Tree Landmarks

CHENNAI:For a city which is known for using statues as landmarks, the introduction to the book Living Landmarks of Chennai, released in the city on Wednesday, marks a new beginning when it says: “Let this book develop a new culture of trees as landmarks.”

A naaval tree opposite  the Villivakkam Railway Station, a ‘button’ tree inside the CSI Madras Diocese, and a maghizham tree on the Kalakshetra campus have references in the book compiled by the NGO Nizhal. 

The book takes one through trees of the city — some obscure and some famous, some on green campuses and some on busy roads. “It takes no effort to read the book; it is delightful to leaf through the trees,” said Santha Sheela Nair, Vice-Chairman, State Planning Commission, who she released the book.

Recounting the trees she had planted in Chennai with the help of the Corporation, she expressed the joy in identifying a tree after several years.  “Right now, the government has allocated Rs 3,000 crore for afforestation projects, of which Rs 659 crore is entirely for increasing the tree cover,” she said, adding urban forestry programmes and tree protection campaigns were also being conducted.  “Go to the top of St Thomas Mount and see the city, you can see its green cover,” said historian S Muthiah, who was the special guest at the book release. He commended Nizhal on their various projects.

D Narasimhan of the Madras Christian College said identifying heritage trees involved looking into various methods — finding historical connections, measuring the girth, the person who planted it, and so on.

The book covers 40 trees of Chennai with photographs, their location, and bilingual description of the species, along with folklore and anecdotes associated with the trees.

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The New Indian Express