SK Malik, environment expert from Dwarka, speaks on how dry fallen leaves aren’t waste but nature’s way of saving the trees from hot weather during April and May.
We often come across sights of burning of dry leaves in open areas, especially in public parks, which adds to air pollution. Both residents as well as civic authorities’ staff take part in this extremely unhealthy practice because they think that this is the easiest way to handle this type of solid waste.
What they don’t know is that this huge collection of fallen dry leaves in parks can easily be converted into organic manure that can be fed to the plants and trees in those parks themselves.
Fallen leaves that collect under the trees during this weather are not garbage but the nature’s own way to protect trees and organisms around them. These fallen leaves provide protection to the surrounding surface from heat.
In March and April, the humidity levels are minimum with high sunshine hours. The soil during this time needs an umbrella, which is provided by these dry leaves. As average monthly temperature rises sharply from March (maximum and minimum temperatures recorded at 30 and 16 degrees Celsius, respectively) to April (maximum and minimum temperatures recorded at 37 and 22 degrees Celsius, respectively) while average relative humidity levels come down from 36% in March to 27% in April, the trees develop a natural tendency to protect the soil underneath from heat.
With the start of April begins the process of shedding of dry leaves as moisture decreases from the air. These scattered leaves cover the soil around the trees like an umbrella so as to protect soil moisture and worms/insects underneath.
By May these fallen leaves start decomposing and turn into manure which provides nutrients and food to trees. With the start of rainy season in June, things start changing again.
Ideally, we should not disturb this natural cycle by sweeping, collecting and disposing fallen leaves. I feel that this natural cycle should be allowed to progress in its own way at least in the parks and green areas. On roads too, some arrangement should be made so that this beautiful natural process isn’t disturbed at all.