CHENNAI: The Raj Bhavan has one more reason for heavy security. “I have been told that we have a red sandal tree worth several crores in our campus,” said Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on Thursday. He disclosed this at the inauguration of a three-day tree census of the 156-acre campus, as well as the Raj Bhavan in Udhagamandalam - starting Friday.
The initiative is a follow-up to a preliminary identification survey that found 264 plant species, out of which 119 are tree species, conducted by scientists of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore earlier this month.
“Our flora are very rich in medicinal value and most of them unknown to us. And I am happy to learn that Tamil Nadu has 5,676 flowering species and stands first in the country. It is time we preserve and conserve these plants,” said Rao, who kicked off the census by tagging a teak tree.
The counting effort will be conducted by 60 students from TNAU pursuing BSc in Agriculture and Horticulture and PG Forestry streams. To assist them, a catalogue on ‘The Trees of Raj Bhavan, Chennai’. compiled by the scientists was released on the occasion.
The census is not just an effort to increase green cover and offer documentation. The Governor, addressing the growing impact of climate change said, “there is a shift in habitat diversity mainly on account of invasive weeds and overexploitation. A systematic documentation of the biodiversity of every region is inevitable, which requires botanical identification, cataloguing and documentation. This, in turn, will help in better policy planning and implementation.”
Dr V Melkani, IFS, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Ramesh Chand Meena, IAS and Principal Secretary to the Governor and Dr K Ramasamy, V-C of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University were among those present.