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Is a Tree Priceless?

Updated: Mar 27, 2022

The best math you can learn is how to calculate the future cost of current decisions. The best science arguably is the study of our environment and the impact we have on it.

The supreme court recently put the math and the science to work and created a guideline that aims to value the impact of cutting trees for the sake of development.

Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, had asked a committee in January 2020 to determine the economic value of trees, based on cost of oxygen they release, and other benefits to the environment.

The five-member committee of experts came out with a formula to evaluate the economic value of a tree. The experts have given a guideline that a tree’s monetary worth is its age multiplied by ₹74,500, This is the first time we have a guideline, on the valuation of trees. The experts also added that a heritage tree with a lifespan of well over 100 years could be valued at more than ₹1 crore per tree.

The question arises as to why this guideline is important and how it is different and what will be the implications of this?

To understand this, we have to take a bird’s eye view of the planet and the civilization. Our Civilization is in no immediate danger of running out of energy or even just out of oil. But we are running out of environment—that is, we are falling short, when we talk about the capacity of the environment to absorb energy's impacts without risk of intolerable disruption.

Trees in the forest would traditionally off set the carbon footprint of humans. However, as we all know the developmental activities that have taken place in the last century has put a lot of strain on the environment and its ability to offset carbon.

So there is a need to evaluate the trees not just based on timber but also on other parameters as well. According to the report filed in February last year but made public in Feb 2021, a tree is worth ₹74,500 a year. Out of this, the cost of oxygen alone is ₹45,000, followed by cost of bio fertilisers, which are worth ₹20,000. Upon adding costs of micronutrients and compost, the report stated, living trees will more often than not outweigh the benefit of most of the projects they are felled for.

The next question that arises is…How will this help?

In today’s society everything is measured in terms of money, and major section in our society will understand the value of trees only where there is a monetary value attached to it. On the other hand, this will come in handy to evaluate the need for useless “contractor friendly” projects where the monetary value of a project, for which hundreds of trees are cut, is sometimes far less than the economic and environmental worth of the felled trees.

Yes, a tree is priceless, the contribution it has on the ecosystem can’t be valued…. This supreme court guideline will be a small but firm stepping stone to understand that a tree is worth more than its timber and its value can’t be undermined.

By B C Kiran 09/02/21


Read more about Creating Ecosystem rich Green spaces and Forest Bathing benefits with Miyawaki Afforestation here

Learn more about owning a wow architecture House in a Rainforest here

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