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Painting a tree � boon or bane?

By Sarada Kanta Sarma

Recently I saw a huge majestic several-decades-old tree on the eastern side of the Dighali Pukhuri painted with multiple colours from its base up to a height of 10-15 feet. I am puzzled and do not know the exact purpose of the said paint works on the tree trunk. However, I could comprehend that such type of paintings that appear attractive and beautiful to passers-by, may ultimately cause unpleasant results to the tree.

It is true that sometimes mild lime water solutions are used by some people to protect mainly the fruit trees which are susceptible to attacks by harmful insects and fungi, that too only up to a height of 3-4 feet from the tree base touching the soil surface. According to experts in this field, when water insoluble durable paints are used to paint the tree trunks with darker colours, it may increase the temperature inside the tree by absorbing solar radiation, thereby affecting the whole tissue system inside. Besides, the minute pores known as lenticels on the surface of the bark through which gaseous exchange for respiration takes place may get blocked affecting the much needed process of respiration. In many countries, tree base painting colour and time of the year to paint the trees are determined by experts to protect the trees from pests.

I could see that the said huge tree is giving shelter to other epiphytic plants, birds, insects etc. Clearly, if any harm or death of the tree occurs, it will affect all the other living organisms which are using the tree as their habitat. Undoubtedly it will change the microclimate of the area as well. The huge trees have their own splendid natural beauty like the equally majestic elephants, rhinoceros etc. A tree neither needs any artificial beauty marks on its body nor should it be used for purposes like fixing banners, hoardings etc. Presence of huge, magnificent trees itself gives simple pleasure in our minds and aesthetic feeling. Conflict with Nature never gives us any long-term benefit but only undesirable end results.

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