Bengaluru: In a strong bid to involve citizens, the Bengaluru Civic Body – – Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) – has introduced the Bengaluru Tree Census App – to launch the first ever tree census in Karnataka.
Bengalureans will be able to download this app on their Apple or Android devices and start uploading photos, GPS coordinates and other details into the app. Once these details are uploaded by citizens the same will be verified by forest officials.
The BBMP with the help of Karnataka Forest Department, has developed the app, believing this will help hasten the much-delayed tree census in the city.
The BBMP Deputy Conservator of Forests H.C. Ranganathaswamy said that the application has been developed in such a way that citizens can upload information easily, which include GPS readings, tree measurement, species and any other details.
“The voluntary declaration process from citizens will now help in the census. According to the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, a tree is defined as one which has a girth of 27.5 cm at least,” he added.
It is a known fact that trees are often the first casualty whenever any development projects are launched in Bengaluru.
In 2019, the BBMP had mandated country’s premier research institute – Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bengaluru (IWST) – to take up the tree census work after receiving several raps on its knuckles from the High Court as several environmentalists had approached the court seeking its directions to launch this census.
Though the BBMP mandated the IWST but the census work did not take off due to various reasons including lack of manpower and due to the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020. The IWST was supposed to complete this survey in three years.
The IWST in its statement stated that the tree census is an important scientific, technical, and educational effort. “The results enable us to characterize the tree population in terms of its structure, function, and value. This information is used in a variety of ways, including management and enables daily and strategic decision-making based on the composition, condition and distribution of trees,” said the IWST.
The IWST explained that it helps in tracking the changes that have occurred in the landscape, predicting and analysing the changes in the study area apart from providing information to maintain the areas with adequate trees.
“Tree census provides information on adaptable species to the particular environment and the species which are tolerant to the changing environments. It also provides information on intolerant species, which can be avoided in future planting activities,” said the IWST.
Even a study from Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Bengaluru that was submitted to the High Court in this regard had stated that lakes and trees that dwelled and surrounded our city have quietly disappeared as a result of the urban sprawl.
“The large number of public open spaces diminished over the years. As the city grew over space and time, inner areas got more crowded and congested. Initiatives to ease congestion on road networks have led to axing numerous road-side trees,” the report had stated.
The report also added that the trees lifetime has reduced due to lopping, damaging of roots by digging of pits, pollarding of trees to give aesthetic look to the sky-high building and getting infected by the manual damages.