The eternal Palmyrah & the World Biodiversity Day

The eternal Palmyrah & the World Biodiversity Day. May 22, 2022

 I look around our messy, untidy piece of land with a medley of trees -  from timber to fruit trees to sundry trees with a pond coming up slowly. One of the defining features are the tall palm trees that wave at the impossibly blue sky. Situated near Anamalai our land is surrounded by farms growing either groundnuts, coconuts or mangoes almost to the exclusion of everything else. In the recent past, it was all the rage to grow creeper vegetables with a lot of chemicals, but that seems to be dying down.

 Palm trees or the Asian palmyrah were ubiquitous on this land, the fruit harvested in summer and sold on the street side, the toddy a popular drink before the tapping of it was banned, the sap extracted to make the palm jaggery or palm sugar, the trunk for roofing and the leaves to make baskets etc. The wood used as rafters for the roof and the leaves used as thatching material. The roots that go deep to find water in this arid land and standing tall during a cyclone or gusty winds while all others fall.

 Today, the palm tree stands almost useless, chopped mercilessly for a road, for widening the fields or for no reason.  There is no income to be made from it anymore. Our 5-acre land with 50 trees is an abberation in our village. We say half in jest that five years from now ours might be one of the few lands with palm trees left.

 The state of Tamil Nadu has realised the value of the tree and declared it the state tree ( a good step) and declared that palm trees can't be felled without permission ( a bad step). So for fear of future bureaucratic hurdles and spectre of bribes, the farmers are felling the trees and not allowing the saplings to come up. Not an encouraging situation for the state tree. We can't blame them. 

 Be it the palm or timber or a rare species of turtle it is our responsibility to build a shared future for all life ….so this International Day for Biodiversity we dedicate to the eternal palm tree. 


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