Tree census ordered to assess green cover

The Delhi government will get the census of trees in the national capital conducted by an independent agency for effective planning on enhancement of the city’s green cover.

The census, to be conducted by an NGO, will throw light on the density of the existing green cover and variety and health of the trees. The exercise will enlist trees in public areas like parks or along pavements. Trees on private premises will not be counted.

Environment and Forest Minister Imran Hussain said the impartial census will help the government in arriving at a factual figure of the number of trees, on the basis of which the department will decide its future course of action on improving the green cover.

An official said: “Trees located in the common areas like roadsides, gardens and parks will be counted as their records can be maintained.”

“Private homes will be left out as the owners are entitled to apply for cutting trees so these cannot be presumed to the green assets,” he said.

At present, the environment department conducts tree census with its own staff and cooperation of the resident welfare associations. “There were some grey areas in the process so we have opted for an independent survey,” said an official.
Husain indicated that despite a third party census, the civic agencies and other departments involved in plantation of saplings will continue to carry out their regular surveys for better planning.

Recently, the High Court questioned city government’s figures on tree population and sought real time date on the forest area which is encroached in many areas.Hussain said a review meeting regarding status of Plantation Drive, Census and Tree Audit would be convened in a months’ time.

According to the Economic Survey of Delhi 2014-15, the city had a tree cover of 297.81 sq km in 2013 or 20.08 per cent of the total area of Delhi. So far, the government has no idea about density, variety and health of the trees other than green cover of Delhi-based on satellite images.

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