We all know that trees are priceless because they provide us with the oxygen we breathe. However, for the first time in India, guidelines on the valuation of trees have been set.
The five-member Supreme Court-appointed committee of experts appointed to set a guideline about the valuation of trees , “A tree’s monetary worth is its age multiplied by ₹74,500,”
The committee has added in its report that a heritage tree with a lifespan of well over 100 years could be valued at more than Rs 1 crore and also that the monetary worth of a project for which hundreds of trees are proposed to cut down is far less than the economic and environmental worth of these trees which are being cut down due to the project.
The report, which was filed in February but was made public on Wednesday, states that if all costs are added and multiplied by the remaining age of a tree, in the present case 100 years, the grand total would be Rs 74,500 per tree year.
Out of this, the cost of oxygen alone is Rs 45,000 a year, followed by the cost of biofertilizers, which are worth Rs 20,000. The report had also stated that upon adding the costs of micronutrients and compost, living trees will more than not outweigh the benefits of the projects which they are being cut down for.
The committee has also suggested that instead of cutting down trees for highway projects, the governments should first explore alternative options for these projects such as using existing waterways and railway lines to facilitate traffic and transport infrastructure.
The committee had also stressed that if trees should be cut down, the first endeavour should be to relocate them by making use of modern technology and it also added that if trees are being cut down, it was not enough to plant five saplings in the place of a 100-year-old tree since such a tree cannot be equated with a few fresh saplings. It also suggested that for a tree with a crown size, 10 saplings should be planted; 25 saplings for a tree with a medium crown size; and 50 saplings for a tree with large crown size.
Reacting to this, actor and environmentalist Juhi Chawla asked her fans to picture a scenario where the “value of the tree is equivalent to the fine imposed on cutting it down” ‘ and said that if that happens, “We’ll have a green India hands down.”