Tree population decreases by over 80,000 since 1997

Instead of the tree population increasing in the city, just the opposite has been happening. The Garden Department of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) outsourced a tree census that was completed on January 26, 2013 and the figure arrived at was 32,07,721 trees in the city, which is 80,484 less than the census figure of 32,88,205 in the 1996-97 census.

Work in progress: As tree census was outsourced to Nyati Infosys, its team members take measurements and gather other information

Also, the latest figure indicates that the green cover in the city is better at Aundh with 6,92,348 trees, while the lowest figures are jointly from Kasaba and Vishrambaug Wada with 17,278 trees. The tree population is also higher in suburban areas and lower in the old city area.

“Rampant construction in the old city area has left no room for planting more trees. As per the state Government Resolution (GR), the norm is that one tree should be found in every 100 square metres in urban areas. The 243.84 square kilometre area of the city has a sizable number of tree,” Ashok Ghorpade, garden superintendent, PMC, said.

He added that the figure would have increased if major green belts like Dunkan Lines — an Army Research Laboratory complex where over one lakh trees thrive — had been included in the census.

“The army authorities did not allow us on the grounds for security reasons. In addition, we could not incorporate figures of the census conducted by the forest department in areas like Katraj, Hadapsar, Kondhawa and Warje. That figure could take the total tree population to over 35 lakh,” Ghorpade said.

He added that in the last tree census, some parts of the forest area were included. “We had also included only those trees with a trunk circumference above 10 cms. The city has a total of 122 tree species, including local and exotic ones,” Ghorpade said.

The civic body outsourced the task to Lotus Environment, Nyati Infosis and V K Group, which conducted the census between February 1, 2012 and January 26, 2013. Suyesh Nyati and Mangesh Yawalkar, partners in Nyati Infosis used a GPS system to get the task done.

“We virtually went to each and every tree in the city, took pictures and included other vital information of the areas, survey numbers, name of housing societies, tree species, possible age and health condition,” Yawalkar said.

Veteran environmentalist Prakash Gole reacted upon hearing about the census figure. “The number of trees in the city should have been increased at least by 10 to 15 per cent. The city is witnessing rapid urbanization in the past two decades, in which works like road-widening and major constructions are creating a problem for existing trees. The PMC could have replanted the trees elsewhere where roads were being widened,” Gole said.

Environmentalist Medha Joshi from Nisargasevak, said, “There is a possibility of miscalculation in the census because the number of trees should have ideally grown. The delay in the tree census work may have had an adverse impact on the tree population in the city. We are worried as the Metro rail is being introduced with a 4 FSI near the routes. This could further lead to more green cover loss in the city.” 

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