The Trees which provide innumerable goods and services for the mankind specially for the protection of environment and considered as a strong component to counter the vagaries of nature like drought, flood, climate change etc have sometime fall short of required expectations as witnessed in the recent havoc caused by Cyclone Hudhud which devastated the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa on 12th October this year. Touching a speed up to 180 Km/hour, the cyclone devastated majority of coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh taking lives of 46 people and affecting around 30 Lakhs families.
Apart from loss of lives and properties, the green cover of Visakhapatnam for which the Corporation even got awards previously also got the dubious distinction of becoming instrumental in more damages to building and other infrastructure leaving apart the loss of vegetation itself
1. Green cover destroyed (http://www.deccanchronicle.com/141013/nation-current-affairs/article/vizag%E2%80%99s-green-cover-destroyed-hudhud)
2. Hudhud cyclone- a green disaster for the State (http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/states/hudhud-cyclone-a-green-disaster-for-vizag/article6497201.ece)
3. Couples feel blues…(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Visakhapatnam/Couples-feel-blue-as-Vizag
4. Visakhapatnam stripped of 70%..... (http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra_pradesh/Cyclone-Hudhud-Visakhapatnam-Stripped-of-70-Percent-of-Green-Cover/2014/10/14/article2477031.ece)
5. Hudhud leaves biodiversity park ravaged….(http://www.deccanchronicle.com/141019/nation-current-affairs/article/hudhud-leaves-biodiversity-park-ravaged-vizag)
In most of the literature on forest regeneration and management practices there is a mention of wind break/ shelter belt system consisting of tress of various species planted across the speed direction of the wind for the purpose of suppressing or reducing the high winds speed and controlling the ill effects however the recent experience of Hudhud damage has now re opened the dimension of forestry management which was hitherto not given much importance in tree plantation specially in urban areas. This is the issue of tolerance of different tree species towards the natural calamity like cyclone.
As per rough estimates of Visakhapatnam officials, approximately 78000 trees (nearly 70 %) were got uprooted in the cyclone. Species like Delonix regia (Gulmohar), Peltophoram( Yellow Flame Tree), Tababeua, Samania saman( Rain tree),Acacias, Jacarandas and Eucalyptus were prominent which got uprooted/ damaged in the Vishakhapatnam city itself in the recent cyclone.
This considerable reduction of green space is going to reduce the capacity of Urban Forests of Visakhapatnam and other towns to mitigate the ill effects of environmental degradation including global warming apart from the aesthetic beauty of the City however the loss can also be taken as opportunity by City Planners and Urban Foresters to revise and rewrite the planning for afforestation programme duly giving space to factors like cyclone tolerance capacity , root system etc apart from other silvi-mechanical aspects . The simple rule that can be made applicable for selection of species is to avoid fast growing trees and those having shallow root systems and select slow growing, having high wood density,dense crown and native trees with deep and profuse root system like Jamun(Syzygium ), Palms , Mango and Ficus to name a few. Giving more priority to areas like beaches and open places having adequate soil and moisture for future planting will also be helpful as the trees in these habitats will tend to grow more vigorous and strong due to availability of more space and deep soil.