Count your 'green' blessings

Count your 'green' blessings

Tree Census will help the Citys municipal authorities estimate the green cover in their areas

Count your 'green' blessings

Delhi is set to have its first full-city tree census soon. A citizen’s initiative, students of 11 schools, two colleges and four Resident Welfare Associations will count all the trees in their areas and submit a report on their location, type, health etc.. This information will then help municipal authorities estimate the green cover in their areas, treat any infected trees and prevent their pruning or felling.

Though the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act came into force in 1994 with instructions to conduct tree census across Delhi routinely, there have only been a few localised countings by some municipal agencies till now. In 2005, the New Delhi Municipal Council carried out a tree census in its area including those on roadsides, in parks and gardens. Recently residents of Sarvodaya Enclave, South Delhi conducted a tree census in their area to discover that they had more vehicles than trees!

Other than this, the government has relied heavily on satellite imagery to determine the green cover in the Capital. A senior government official told Metrolife, “The problem with assessments through Geographic Information System (GIS) is that it only gives a sense of our greenery but trees continue to be felled illegally because we have no count of them.”“A tree census, especially done by locals also helps inspire a sense of ownership and responsibility in them. So that the next time a tree is being axed for construction work, the locals can raise an alarm.”

A census format has also been prepared for volunteers to make measurements and observations on the trees they include in the survey. SD Singh, CEO, Delhi Parks and Gardens Society, explains, “This protocol has been prepared after consultations with environmental activists and botanists. There are columns for notings on tree type, girth, approximate height, health, width of soil around the tree, ground condition and general comments.”

“We will also issue a booklet on the common trees of Delhi which will help residents and school children identify trees in their areas. Initially, the Delhi horticulture department staff will help the volunteers. Once, the tree-enthusiasts learn the technique, we are hoping it to be a smooth run.”

The Mirambika School in Hauz Khas has already started its census while Gulmohar Park residents will take up the exercise in the coming week.

In Delhi, trees often compete for space with big development projects like the Delhi Metro. A recent UN habitat state of world cities report ranked Delhi at 58 in the world green index among 95 cities.