The web portal India Biodiversity will organise a nation-wide ‘Neighbourhood Trees Campaign’ from Tuesday (Earth Day) to Sunday.
The campaign aims to spread awareness on the importance of trees and crowdsource information on trees in the country. Volunteers just need to click photographs of trees in their gardens and neighbourhood and post their observations on them. The campaign will be conducted online at http://treesindia.indiabiodiversity.org/.
There are about 7,500 tree species in India. The organisers of the campaign are hoping to create a web page on every tree species through this venture. Prabhakar and Thomas Vattakaven of India Biodiversity portal expressed hope that the campaign will popularise the portal and help it grow into a rich and open-access repository on biodiversity.
R Ganesan, a plant taxonomist at Ashoka Trust for Research on Ecology and Environment (ATREE), and one of the organisers, said good description of tree species and their distribution is not easily available. “Some recent field guide books by Pradip Krishen and others have helped raise awareness. But seasonality and flowering and fruiting patterns need to be studied to understand local and global climate changes,” he said.
He said citizen participation in such environment documentation programmes is vital and should be encouraged. “Projects like SeasonsWatch, Eflora India address some of these issues. It it very important that such efforts get a fillip.”
Road-widening and other infrastructure projects have been taking a toll on trees in the country.
Over the last few years, the Million Trees initiative in New York, the tree census project by the Chennai Corporation and the Neralu tree festival in Bangalore have helped increase citizen participation in conservation of trees.