The Delhi government has finally set a deadline of February 2013, for the launch of the Capital's first-ever tree census. The Delhi Preservation of Trees Act came into force in 1994, with a mandate to count trees, but it could never take off despite promises.
The Delhi parks and garden society (DPGS) has roped in five RWAs and as many schools for the first leg of the census before it is introduced across the Capital. The DPGS claims to have prepared an action plan.
Data compiled in the process has established that there are 414 species of trees of 270 genres in the Capital. Delhi's total green cover is 20 per cent. But that is only one side of the story. A recent UN habitat state of world cities report ranked Delhi at 58 in the world green index among 95 cities. According to a latest report of the Forest Survey of India, it has in fact come down by a good .38 sq km in recent years.
In Delhi, where land is scarce, the green cover is often compromised for development projects such as the expansion of the Metro.
"The problem is we have relied only on satellite imagery, but even that gives a sense only of the area of green cover in Delhi. Campaigns against illegal felling and pruning of trees fall flat because there are no area-specific authentic tree inventories," admitted a senior government official.
S D Singh, chief executive officer of DPGS, said, "Cataloguing information on trees will help in protection and addition of the urban green cover. In the first leg, the census will be carried out in front of the government's horticulture staff so that difficulties faced can be understood better and tackled effectively."