Once known as the Garden City, Bangalore is now losing its sheen due to the consistently depleting green cover. Satellite images are unable to capture green patches as they have shrunk drastically.
Forest Department officials of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) said they were not able to gather data on the city’s green cover.
Speaking to Express, Brijesh Kumar, formerly chief conservator of forests, BBMP, said the Palike relied on satellite images to assess the city’s green cover. “Most of the tree patches in the city are too small to appear in the images we receive. “As of now, we don’t have data about this. Any conclusion we arrive at is only empirical,” he added.
When contacted, a senior scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said an optimum area of 5 square kilometre had to be captured for reasonable assessment.
10% tress vanishing every year
Horticulturists say Bangalore is losing its green cover with 10 per cent of its trees vanishing each year. The BBMP which is responsible to replace felled trees is not hopeful of meeting this year’s planting target of 3.5 lakh trees.
“So far this year, the Palike has planted 70,000 trees,” Kumar told Express. “Tree planting is season-specific work, and the planting season is already over. Any attempt to scale up the planting process is unlikely now as the trees will not survive.” During 2011-12, the Palike planted 80,000 trees.
Nearly 1 lakh trees are felled each year for infrastructure development and development of layouts. The depletion of trees is particularly high in locations where private layouts have sprung up. Many trees are either chopped or poisoned.
S V Hittalamani, Additional Director, Department of Horticulture, said, “Nearly 2 per cent of the trees are felled by poisoning when individuals or property developers want to construct houses. The tree bark is injected with chemicals,” Hittalamani said.
However, he added that the only haven for trees in the city were the parks and gardens. “Lalbagh currently has 8,000 trees and the Cubbon Park is home to nearly 25,000,” he said.
Major threats to avenue trees or roadside trees are road widening and flyover projects, despite a High Court directive to the BBMP earlier this month not to cut trees for road widening.
Development activities are also a hindrance to the normal growth of trees as they are not left with enough space or water to grow.
“This is why avenue trees are poorly anchored in the soil,” Hittalamani said, and added: “We don’t know where all the Sampige and Margosa trees have gone.”
He said enhanced levels of pollution by carbon monoxide and heavy metals are an added factor.
Nearly 10, 000 trees older than 10 years were lost every year to diseases caused by tree borer insect, said Abraham Verghese, senior agricultural scientist, Indian Institute of Horticulture.
“There are no measures being taken to save these trees affected by borer insect. These trees have very weak barks and tend to fall off due to wind and rain.”