Maharashtra to amend act for conservation of `heritage trees'

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Mumbai, Jun 10 (PTI) The Maharashtra cabinet on Thursday decided to amend an act to make special provisions for the conservation of `heritage trees' -- the trees which are more than 50 years old -- in urban areas.

If such a tree is to be felled for any purpose (such as construction), the number of trees equal to its age will have to be planted. The Maharashtra (Urban areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, will be amended for the purpose of implementing the concept of heritage tree, a statement from the chief minister's office said.

A tree with an estimated age of 50 years or more shall be defined as a heritage tree. It may belong to specific species, which will be notified from time to time, the release said.

The Environment and Climate Change Department in consultation with the Forest Department will issue guidelines to determine the age of a tree.

Under the proposed amendment, if a heritage tree is needed to be felled, the number of trees equal to its estimated age will have to be planted as compensatory measure, and the applicant will have to ensure that such plantation survives for the next seven years.

If compensatory plantation is not possible, the applicant can deposit 'economic valuation' of trees being felled.

A proposal for felling more than 200 trees of age five years or more shall be referred to the Maharashtra State Tree Authority.

The amendment will also provide that tree experts are part of the Local Tree Authorities. These authorities will carry out a tree census every five years, enumerate heritage trees and also carry out tree plantation with a focus on local species. The minimum land under plantation in any urban area shall not be less than 33 per cent, the release said. PTI MR KRK KRK

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