Geo-enabled tree census finds Pune has more green cover in 2019

Updated on May 22, 2019 02:55 PM IST
According to the census, Pune Municipal Corporation mapped 40,09,623 trees in city
Surveyors using geo-tagging technology to conduct the tree census.(HT Photo)
Surveyors using geo-tagging technology to conduct the tree census.(HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, Pune | By

The Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) tree census project, that used geo-tagging technology, has finally been completed. According to the census the civic body has counted 40,09,623 trees in 2019. In 2013 census PMC counted 38.60 lakh trees.

According to the Maharashtra Protection and Prevention of Trees Act 1975, it is mandatory to carry out tree census for every civic body once in every five years.

Hence, the PMC allocated the tender of the tree census to Saar, a private information technology (IT) firm in 2016, for a period of seven years.

The cost of the tree census project is Rs 9 crore including maintenance of the trees for the next five years. A team of 120 people including surveyors, taxonomist and technical staff were working for two years to complete project.

Civic officers attributed the increase in number of trees, over the period of five years, to residents, NGOs and other social organisations who participated in various tree plantation drives over the years.

Sonune Ganesh, incharge of the PMC tree authority, said, “Along with NGOs and social organisations, the civic body has also been involved in conducted various tree plantation drives in the city on a large scale. This has helped us to increase the green cover of the city. The civic body has made it mandatory to plant a tree before cutting any other tree.”

Yogesh Kute, geo special head of tree census project informed that by using geo-tagging technology they have collected photographs of 40 lakh trees. In this census, PMC found 407 different types of tree species, out of which, 105 were rare species. The android application developed by Saarit will give an idea about the current status of each tree,details about varieties of trees and distribution of trees under different municipal wards.

Kute said,“We have handed over the census data to PMC. We have also sent a comprehensive tree book containing information like botanical name, local name and age of tree for the approval. Once the book is approved it will be published.”

Botany experts happy, but not content

Sachin Punekar, Botany expert, says, “The green cover in the city has been increased by two lakh trees which is good. However, if the trees were more of indigenous and native variety, it would have been better news. The tree census committee has mostly counted exotic tree varieties, moreover, the tree cover is enhancing but quality is not what we expected. It is more mono culture and this is only adding to the green expanse, but not to the bio diversity aspect that this city needs.”

Kishore Bhosale, assistant professor of Botany at Wadia College, said, “On July 1, the Maharashtra government, conducted a tree plantation drive on a large scale, wherein all educational institutes participated and planted trees. Due to this, we helped increase the green cover by 20 lakh trees. The green cover in the city is depleting drastically due to urbanisation and developmental projects. However, the civic body is not planting Indian tree species during the plantation programme. Government should define which trees should be planted.”

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