Deep respect for deep roots

Old trees find new homes in Punjab, India

By Lori Fligge January 30, 2015

Throughout the centuries and across continents and cultures, trees of all kinds have been admired for their beauty and revered for a variety of symbolic meanings. In India, for example, the neem tree has been referred to as a “Divine Tree” and considered an emblem of health.

When Cargill recently began work to build a new feed mill facility in Bathinda, one of the oldest cities in Punjab, India, it found 74 “heritage” trees on the site. From neem and shisham trees to gular and kikar trees, these monuments of nature had been rooted there for decades.

From an efficiency standpoint, the easiest thing would be to chop them down and clear the ground for construction, end of story. But the Cargill India team was more interested in the environmental standpoint – and therefore invested a great deal of time and hard work to ensure the trees would live on.

In partnership with the Forest Department of Bathinda and a local nursery, the Cargill team relocated the trees to non-construction areas or other sites identified by local forest officials. The process was labor-intensive and required painstaking care, as the trees were both large and fragile, and safety of the workers was top priority.

This “tree relocation” effort – which kicked off with an event on Jan. 8, 2015 – was the first of its kind by a corporation in Punjab, and got the attention of local government and environment ministry officials. In a letter of appreciation to Achyuth Iyengar, managing director of Cargill Feed & Nutrition in India, Divisional Forest Officer Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Tiwari said:

“The Forest Department Bathinda Division appreciates the initiative taken by your firm, Cargill India PL, for the tree transplantation by your unit at Bathinda. Such [an] initiative will be [an] example for other agencies also to save the valuable forest by way of tree transplanting. This initiative will not only bring ecological balance but will also help in mitigating the adverse impact of climate change.”

On Jan. 25, 2015, the last of the 74 uprooted trees was replanted in its new home to establish its roots and thrive for years to come – thanks to Cargill India’s desire to branch out and try a new idea.