Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trunk call

Trunk call
Missing trees should set your alarm bells ringing. When that happens, tell these guys and they’ll plant a sapling to make up for our dwindling green cover

Agroup of Bangaloreans is saying enough is enough and has decided to take the city’s green cover in its hands.
They call their project ‘Tree Call’ which aims to estimate and preserve the urban tree population in Bangalore with the help of Bangaloreans.
As a first step, they created a ‘tree map’, plotting trees on an online map using a global positioning system (GPS) device. If citizens e-mail the group about a missing tree, the group will delete the tree on the online map and plant a sapling in a ‘free lung space’ in the city. The group will also write back to the citizen, telling him/her where the sapling has been planted.
The aim of the project is to bring about accountability and management of the trees in Bangalore, said college student Vijay Babu S, whose brainchild it is. They want to throw light on the city’s biodiversity, put a plug on illegal tree-felling and enable authorities to create green lung spaces.
The other group members, students Kiran V and Narayan, work on the field and co-ordinate with volunteers. Sharif, another student, has created the software and updates the website.
The group uses a GPS device to ‘geo-tag’ the trees. This gives the tree’s latitude and longitude. For a start, the group has geo-tagged 300 trees in Jayanagar’s East End Road, 32nd Cross Road, 39th Cross Road and 26th Main Road.
The group has also identified “free lung spaces” where it can plant saplings. These are spots where the authorities (BBMP, the office of Conservator of Forests) say saplings may be planted.
With 100 saplings alerady in its possession, there are sapling donors ready to add to the sapling bank, including green organisation Hasiru Usiru.
Group activist and field botanist Sheshadri will help in deciding which type of sapling will be chosen depending on requirements such as height/shady/ornamental/leaf -shedding/canopy.
Since it is a community-based model, Sheshadri said the success o f t h e project depends on volu n t e e r s . “We need at least five volunteers in each BBMP ward,” he said. The volunteer has to identify trees and provide details for the tree survey such as its species, location, girth, prominent landmarks near it etc.
Vijay is confident that soon they will enable Bangaloreans to see the maps which mark the location of felled trees and newly-planted saplings on their mobile phones via a mobile phone application that the group is busy developing.


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