Can Arunachal’s tallest tree build a road?

first_imgGenerally, trees are cut down for building roads. But in Arunachal Pradesh, a village is hoping that a flourishing tree will help spur the construction of a road. Residents of Kallek village in Siang district have developed a track to the State’s largest tree, standing almost 65 metres tall.The trekking track, the brainchild of 14 households in Kallek, was fuelled by the hope that the tree, called Atang Ane, and the variety of birds it attracts would popularise trekking enough for the local authorities to act on their 20-year-old promise to pave the road from the highway to the village. Kallek, inhabited by the Adi community, is 48 km from Pasighat, the Siang district headquarters. The last 10 km from the highway to the village, marked by a tough and hilly terrain, has been in the making for two decades now. “Atang Ane, which has grown into a huge tree today was once a fragile sapling, brought here from Myanmar. It was planted by a village elder,” said Tamang Tamuk, the head ‘gaonburah’ (village elder) of Kallek. Atang Ane (Ficus elastica) means ‘mother rubber tree’ in the Adi dialect. A three hour trek from Kallek, it stands as the largest multi-trunk tree in Arunachal Pradesh, spreading over an area of 59.8 m. “The trek from Kallek to Atang Ane is not just about gawking at a huge tree. It is also a birdwatchers’ paradise,” said Gandhi Darang, who runs Ane Siang Tours & Expeditions in Itanagar.Birds in the area include the great hornbill (the State bird), sunbird, white-tailed robin, barwing, collared treepie, parrotbill, and shrike babbler. In fact, 252 species were recorded in the Siang region during a six-year study that ended in 2016. Of these, 66, including six endangered ones, were reported for the first time.last_img