The delayed onset of monsoon showers this year has compelled the civic body to postpone its plans to conduct its first hi-tech tree census in the city.
The year-long tree census that is conducted once in every five years, was previously supposed to commence in June. However, the delayed onset of monsoon and the difficulty in using the Global Positioning System (GPS) during the rain has impelled officials from the civic body’s Tree Authority to postpone the project to the first week of October.
“We will be floating tenders next week to invite agencies to help us conducting the census. We had to postpone the project as once the project is started, it will take almost one year to be fully completed,” said Suhas Karwande, deputy municipal commissioner (gardens). “The monsoon could disturb the satellite mapping of the trees.”
As part of the technologically supported project, officials are hoping to identify the biological name of the trees and enlist comprehensive set of details such as girth, height and life expectancy and upload them on their server along with their GPS markers. The previous census, which was conducted in 2008, stated that the city’s green cover had doubled from 9.5 lakh species in 1998 to approximately 19 lakh. “After counting every three lakh trees, we will contact the experts,” added Karwande.
However, some tree experts raised doubts about the need for the GPS system considering the high costs involved. “Compared to the earlier procedure of counting individual trees, the new system will be very expensive,” said Dr Vidyadhar Ogale, tree expert committee member. “In the past, there have been some glitches in the system, when almost 30 trees located close to each other in the zoo compound were given the same coordinates,” he added.
“What is the need for such a high-tech system for the city, where the latitudes and longitudes of the exact position of the tree are pointed out?” asked a former tree authority member. “The cost of conducting the census using GPS technology could be almost 60% higher than conducting the manual census,” he added.