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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Delhi shelves idea of geo-tagging trees, agencies doing third party audit

One year down the line,the project hasn’t taken off yet and seems to have been shelved for want of infrastructure, lack of expertise and funds.

delhi Updated: Aug 13, 2019 04:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
After facing criticism for poor post-plantation management of saplings, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced in 2018 that the government would geo-tag trees that were being planted to monitor their growth.
After facing criticism for poor post-plantation management of saplings, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced in 2018 that the government would geo-tag trees that were being planted to monitor their growth. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
         

After facing criticism for poor post-plantation management of saplings, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced in 2018 that the government would geo-tag trees that were being planted to monitor their growth.

One year down the line,the project hasn’t taken off yet and seems to have been shelved for want of infrastructure, lack of expertise and funds.

Senior forest officials said that all government agencies, including the civic bodies, have been directed to go for third-party audits to take a stock of their previous plantations. This, they say, would solve the same purpose of ensuring better management of trees, without much hassle.

“The department is running short on staff. Geo-tagging every tree and monitoring them would require handling data of lakhs of trees. This would require a separate directorate,” said a senior forest official, who didn’t wish to be named.

Geographical tagging (also known as geo-tagging) is the process of adding geographical identification data to any fixed object. This data consists of latitude and longitude coordinates. The coordinates could then be used to identify the geo-tagged item and monitor them through satellites.

“If there is a one minor error in the coordinates while the reading is being taken, then satellites won’t be able to identify the tree and might reflect that the tree doesn’t exist despite the fact that the sapling might be growing in a healthy manner,” said the official.

A senior forest official said geo-tagging of trees will require huge infrastructure as the latitude and longitude of each tree would have to be recorded with the help of hand-held devices. The individual tree can then be identified with the help of satellites and monitored from space. It would require ‘ground truthing’ (verification on the ground) to get authentic results.

“It would be difficult to do geo-tagging for acres of plantation where lakhs of trees are planted. Geo-tagging is usually done to cater specific needs such as identifying diseased trees, tree of national importance, heritage trees in a particular area among others. It requires huge man power and time,” said NK Upreti, group coordinator of the Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute’s research and coordination section.

In May this year, however, the forest department directed all greening agencies to conduct third-party audits of plantation done during the period 2015-18. The exercise should be completed within four months. A similar exercise was taken up by the forest department to take a stock of its plantation between 2012 and 2015.

“While the forest department is taking the help of Dehradun-based FRI, greening agencies in Delhi have been asked to get it done from institutes such as the IARI in Pusa or NEERI. Work is going on in this regard,” said the official.

First Published: Aug 12, 2019 23:48 IST

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