Abdul Wahab Khan | NT
Well known for its green spaces and heritage building, Panaji has a host of impressive plant and tree species providing a spectacular visual pageant across the city.
Thanks to public vigilance the variety of tree and plant species contributing to Panaji biodiversity has remained unharmed so far.
In December 2003, the government had decided to cut 39 rain trees to make place for Inox multiplex and road widening but after protest by Botanical Society of Goa (BSG) only few trees were allowed to be felled.
Nearly 125 species of trees and plants have been recorded by BSG and Don Bosco College of Agriculture in the comprehensive tree survey conducted by the group appointed by the civic body.
In perhaps the first-of-its-kind initiative in the city to list biodiversity, the tree survey conducted by a team of trained and qualified botanists has led to discovery of more than 2,400 plants and 450 trees of 125 different species that include rare and lesser found species, of which many are around 65-100 years old.
The species of trees have been recorded along the 18th June road, DB road, Atmaram Borkar road, Swami Vivekananda road, Miramar beach and all seven city gardens and parks on which survey has been completed.
While it might be common place to find heritage monuments and sites in our midst, few might have heard of heritage trees. During the survey, the team has also randomly identified around six heritage tree species. Some of them are maddi or jungli badam, and rain tree. Some of the lesser found tree species like Palash, Kadamba tree, Cucumber Tree, Branched Palm, have also been recorded.
It has to be mentioned here that the CCP has proposed the planting of trees to improve the quality of life in the capital city and hence the work was entrusted to BSG and the -established Don Bosco College of Agriculture last year in May to list biodiversity of plant species and create a framework of where to not (and where to) plant the trees to preserve greenery in the city.
The agency has given a preliminary list of such trees to the CCP. At present, the society is verifying data and nomenclature of the trees in the city. The trees to be included in biodiversity register of Panaji were selected on the basis of their age, aesthetic and ecological merits and a book with the list will be released in October this year.
“We have almost completed the study and identified 125 species of trees and plants with some closer to 100 years old. We are now in the process to verify the data and classify the tree species based on their scientific name. So far, randomly we have identified around six heritage trees that needed to be conserved,” says Miguel Braganza, secretary, Botanical Society of Goa.
He said that a Maddi or Jungli Badam along the MG Road near Kala Academy was the oldest among the six randomly identified heritage trees. The 100-year-old tree attracts lightning and so serves as a lightning conductor. Sixty-five-year-old rain trees, which originate from the Caribbean island were largely identified at Altinho, Dayanand Bandodkar Road and Dr Jack Sequeira Road. The city also has 50-year-old ornamental trees like Gulmohar, Rusty Shield bearer and Copper pod tree with golden yellow and pink petals flowers along the 18th June Road and DB Road.
Also on the list is the rarely found branched palm at Clube Tennis Gaspar Dias in Miramar and Nina Park in Campal. This species was never reported in the state. Besides, there is a medicinal tree called Palash tree which is also known as ‘flame of the forest’ because of its red coloured flowers. Its different parts are used to cure various ailments. It was an only tree found near Thomas Cook travel agency along the DB Road.