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Delhi govt’s initiative of geo-tagging trees could be a herculean task

Forest officials also fear that lack of expertise might lead to wrong coordinates of tree’s position being uploaded, which might in turn lead to more errors when satellites are used to locate the trees and monitor their health.

delhi Updated: Sep 09, 2018 01:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Saplings,Geo-tagging,Herculean task
Delhi cabinet minister Satyendra Kumar Jain plants a sapling in the Yamuna flood plains as part of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s mega tree plantation drive on Saturday. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

The Delhi government’s initiative of geo-tagging trees to monitor their growth and ensure proper post plantation care will require huge manpower and technical expertise to record GPS coordinates with the help of hand held devices, experts said.

Forest officials also apprehend that lack of expertise might lead to wrong coordinates of tree’s position being uploaded, which might in turn lead to more errors when satellites are used to locate the trees and monitor their health.

Geographical tagging (also known as GeoTagging) 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 geotagged item and monitor them through satellites.

Faced with criticism from various quarters for poor post-plantation management of saplings, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that this year the government will geo-tag trees that are being planted.

But senior officials of the forest department said tracking trees would be a herculean task as the department is already facing a severe staff crunch.

“We are already running short of staff. If we are required to geo-tag each and every tree and handle the data of lakhs of trees, we will need a separate directorate,” said a senior forest official.

Geo-tagging of trees will require lots of manpower as the latitude and longitude of each and every tree would have to be captured with the help of handheld devices. The individual tree can then be identified with the help of satellites and monitored from space.

“We might have to engage labourers for this as we don’t have enough staff. If there is a one minor error in the coordinates while the reading is being taken then wrong data will be uploaded. In that case the satellites won’t be able to identify the tree and might show that no tree has been planted at that location despite the fact that the sapling might be growing in a healthy manner,” said the official.

Officials said that human errors could be minimized with training. But at present the forest department has only one deputy conservator of forest, who has knowledge of this technology. The labourers, if engaged, will not have any idea how to minimize human errors and this could lead to erroneous data being uploaded.

The forest department is also planning to take the help of Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute.

“Geotagging will require the coordinates of individual trees being captured. This can be then monitored through satellites. ‘Ground truthing’ or verification on the ground can be done if the satellite shows that the trees are dying. There are always chances of errors in any technology,” said NK Upreti, group coordinator of the FRI’s research & coordination section.

First Published: Sep 09, 2018 01:04 IST