The Source – Tree of Unity

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The Source - Tree of Unity
The Source - Tree of Unity

The Source – Tree of Unity

This is a beautiful story about how a community came together in times of need for the sake of the environment

Aug 12 – A search by a Goa based tree lover San (Sanobar Durrani of Goa Banyan Project) on the internet, ends up in a call to a “tree Expert” in Hyderabad… about a week earlier a storm had brought down one of Goas most popular tree. This tree known as “The Source” was a favourite with 1000s of travelers from across the globe. Right from Yoga sessions to Estatic Dances this tree had been the favourite spot for a large Expat Community. From the spot one could hear the roaring sea which probably added to their experience. That was before Aug 5.. when it came crashing down in a storm. Today it was looking at a bleak future…

Banyans are very hardy trees and normally “can’t” fall as they keep sprouting atrial roots and spread out. So, I wondered why it could have fallen down but then told myself I need to concentrate on getting it back up. Coming back to the call, I quickly asked for a few pics to analyse the situation… this followed by a chat with Marc Francis from Living Heritage Foundation. 3 days later a heavy equipment handling team lead by Naresh, was on their way by road and I flew into Goa on the 17th of August. After a mandatory Covid test at the Airport, I was at the site by 4:30pm.

The next day went off in deliberations/discussions with the locals and the Landlord where this Tree once stood. Since most of the roots had snapped, many branches would need to be trimmed up.. this is to ensure that the weight of the top is brought down. What made this tree more special was that it wasn’t a single tree.. 6 to 7 trees had grown on the original tree and had strangulated it… but that was not the issue… the newer trees grew at a height of about 30feet above the ground and what seemed to be the main trunk was in fact a rotting mother tree encapsulated by scores of atrial roots of the newer trees. The Tree known as “The Source” was almost everything for the Expat community and now that a Tree Expert was here to save it, they were hoping it could be put back in place as is without any trimming. This was not possible for 2 reasons.

  • The tree needs to stand on its own to ensure it starts off growing roots and shoots and does so as per the local situation… like the sunlight, ground condition, water source etc… we can’t make it grow branches or roots at a spot of our choice. For the tree to take a natural decision it needs to stand on its own weight.
  • we didn’t have the ideal machinery in the form of a 100 Ton Crane to lift it up and put it back. I was given 3 Backhoes and a 200 Poclain to revive a 100+ ton Banyan. This would be impossible, with all its branches intact.. and we will need to rid as much weight on the upper section as possible, for the 200 to be able to do its magic.

Day 2 went off in inconclusive discussions… and with just 2 Backhoes not much work could be achieved. I understood that the only way to bring this giant back up was to dig up a bigger hole and slide it in and then use a 200 Poclain to push it up. I had done my study on the tree and made note of how many roots got snapped with the fall, and other necessary technical stuff. We tried to use the 2 available Backhoes to see if the tree was light enuf to slide into the pit.. with full torque for both the machines the tree didn’t budge an inch!!!

Day 3 started off with a welcome addition.. the 200 Poclain!! Quickly we started off work and step by step reduced the weight for the 200 to push the tree back in its deeper pit and lo!!!! The giant was back up on its own!!! Of course, after a few tense moments.

However, this was a milestone celebration only. We were still far off from the final goal… to see the giant on its own. It will take about 2 weeks for new shoots and roots to start developing and then about 2 years for it to be on its own.. and during all this time it is in Intensive Care.. and will need constant watch.. which the local community promised take care of… However, this story doesn’t end here…

Back in Hyderabad I had to force myself to a few days of rest. Last 15 days was hectic and my now 50 Yr old body isn’t handling the way it used to earlier!! Sitting back, I realized this story was much more than the Fallen Banyan Tree. What had happened between Aug 5 to 19 was outstanding.. here’s how…

When the giant tree fell down it broke the hearts of 1000s of people across the Globe… yes Globe. And soon an SOS was sent out to all these people to pool in some money to save this tree.. and a bunch of local Goan NPOs and activists had come forward to form a team to save this tree at any cost.. so here is a movement spread across the globe, of people from different walks of life, across religions, across borders etc., had come forward for one positive task, in unity!! THIS was magical in today’s world.. a world which is divided by regions, religion, class etc… has seen something quiet contrast… so a bigger story was emerging across the globe which needed to be told.. and within Goa this was the first such thing to have happened and that meant it opened up to endless possibilities for local Eco Warriors.. hence this story.

The tree was known as “The Source” If I had a choice, I would name it “The Source – Tree of Unity” and build upon this unity to achieve far more difficult tasks and that is the next Project. Think about the possibilities to have a team spread across the globe all with the same love for trees and working as a team!!! This is going to be BIG!!!! Keep watching!!

The credit list for this project so far, is long… will try my best to cover as many as possible.

  • Marc Francis, Pria Sule, Renuka Figueiredo, Phoebe Marisa from Living Heritage Foundation Goa who did a lot of running around arranging the man and machine for this project
  • Mohan Mochi from Eco Champions For Goa for coming up with a beautiful video which went on to become viral and helped raise the required funds for the Project
  • Clive, Gary, Marsy Anna, Santeri Saahko, Tikki, and many more from the Arambol Community. A Special thanks to Anna for her deliciously baked goodies, they were the life savers!!!
  • Sanobar Durrani from The Goa Banyan Project  who made that most important call!!
  • Uday Krishna Peddireddi (author) and Founding Trustee at Vata Foundation a self and crowd funded NPO, with an experience of saving over 1500 fully grown trees behind them.
  • Avertino Miranda from Goa Green Brigade who joined us on the 19th and extended his support.

Apart from these people a special thanks to the men who made this possible… Naresh and team who were experts in moving heavy equipment with minimum machinery and who had braved Covid 19 and agreed to go to Goa, the Backhoe and Poclain operators and all other locals who stood and cheered the team during the entire process.. it had to be so.. after all it was “The Source – Tree of Unity”

Photo and Writeup By: Uday Krishna Peddireddi