BENGALURU: If you spotted ‘hash’ marks (#) on trees along the city roads and concluded that it was a move to chop them down for widening of roads or construction of flyovers, then worry not.
A group of young volunteers, under the banner of ‘Talking Earth’, have been quietly going about mapping trees. So far, they have mapped nearly 2,000 trees along the proposed steel flyover corridor from Basaveshwara
Circle to Hebbal.
The organisation has been using the hash symbol to avoid mapping trees that have already been recorded.
Varun Hemachandran, founder of Talking Earth, a Bengaluru-based initiative to save trees,told Express, “We were saddened after the government’s decision to chop down trees for the proposed steel flyover. So we decided to map trees on to an open platform that will help keep track of the green cover and aid the authorities plan development and manage the green cover better.”
“The government plans to cut down more than 20,000 trees across the city for various infrastructure projects in the next few years,” he said. He added, “We will have data about the number of trees that
will be cut down, estimated loss of green cover, age and species of trees once the mapping is complete,” he said.
The organisation has nearly 40 active volunteers in Bengaluru, Chennai and New Delhi. It has
also uploaded details of all mappedtrees on www.opentreemap.org/map.
The database is expected to help government agencies calculate the loss of green cover while executing infrastructure projects and also help them plant the same species of trees earlier present in a particular locality.
“Our volunteers are mostly college students and techies who spend nearly two hours every day mapping trees. An average of 500 trees are mapped every month,” said Hemachandran.
An alumnus of Madras Christian College (MCC) in Chennai, Hemachandran was shocked to see photos of uprooted trees post the cyclone. “It was very painful to see photos of trees uprooted on the MCC campus. I have received several calls from Chennai to do something for protection of the trees that withstood the cyclone. Now we have started mapping trees across Chennai,” he said. “The response to the initiative has been overwhelming. We are also conducting training programmes across the country,” said Hemachandran.