CHENNAI: Did you know that has 314 trees or that the has 218? This count doesn‘t include the numerous plants and shrubbery that lend these parks its greenery. A city-based recently conducted a tree-mapping survey in both parks to put the number and species of trees here in public domain.

As part of the census, every tree in these parks, with its name, photograph, current age, its geographical position has been mapped. This is the first step towards creating an inventory for trees in the city, which the corporation has thus far, failed to maintain, and also a means of tracking the number of these public assets that get axed for development work. The project was undertaken by Nizhal with the help of nature enthusiasts and a handful of school students.

“School children too went around parks locating the trees. The findings were then mapped using GIS, thus, giving us an evidence of their presence. There is no traceability for trees. Most trees in these parks are the rare kind and have grown through decades,” said GR Ravi, a mechanical engineer who was involved in the project.

Rare trees like Baobab and an exotic Brazilian iron wood tree planted in the pre-Independence era were found in both parks. Natesan Park also houses Guaiacum officinale, otherwise called the tree of life.

The GIS mapping will be made available to public after integrating with Good Earth and specimens will be put outside both these parks after discussions with the corporation. The ruthless destruction of trees at and Nehru Parks in the name of development of Metro Rail prompted the need for this survey, said activists involved in the project.

“After Vardah, the Chennai corporation was struggling to put the exact number of trees that were destroyed. Mapping trees will help knowing how many trees there are,” said TD Babu, a biologist.

Shobha Menon of Nizhal said keeping track of trees is needed with the number of development projects gobbling up the green space. “Having a census will put the number of trees out there in the open. A record of their existence and destruction can be known to everyone. Such monitoring will be useful for saving them,” said Menon.

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