Nature lovers create database of hills around Pune

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Times of India: Green Hills Group, a trust that works in rainwater harvesting and tree plantation, has come up with a cellphone-based application in creating biodiversity database of the hills in Pune.

This application is developed to create a biodiversity database of trees, natural ponds, among others, of the hills in and around Pune.

At present, the software is configured to recognise four hills in Pune – Chaturshringi Hill, Hanuman tekdi, the forest land behind ARAI and Mhatoba mandir hill, Paud Road. There are approximately ten thousand trees on these four hills.

The application gives the exact location of a tree and details like its botanical name, the date on which it was planted, major contributors and the importance of the plant. The site will also now provide information such as the types of trees (small, large deciduous tree, large evergreen tree). , their botanical names and the number of plants among others.

Sanjay Athavale, trustee of the group, said that creating the database is a huge task. “So far, of the approximately 1,000 trees on the four hills, we have covered 300. The database is in its pilot phase and information is being added to it. We want nature lovers to join us and complete this task. One can gather information on trees, identify them and take photographs,” he said.

One can log onto www.greenhillsgroup.org and access the trees on Google maps. This application can help nature lovers and environmentalists working for restoration and conservation of natural resources in Pune. The application can also be used by the forest department and the local municipal corporation for keeping track of the trees.

He said that the application can be configured for other hills and places too. Baner hill will be added soon.

Athavale said that people can install the application in an Android-based cellphone. “With the help of this server, one can get a list of the 100 commonly found trees in and around Pune. One has to identify the trees and take pictures, which will tree images that get uploaded to the server. The mobile phone should get a GPS signal. If there is no internet connection, the images and the location get stored automatically and can be downloaded later,” he said.

To avoid repeating the same tree, the group has started painting the stem of the trees in white. “We have shown the application to the PMC as well as the forest department. The forest department and other groups like ours plant trees on hills. But we are not sure how many survive. This application will help us to know how many trees of a particular species exist, their size, growth and importance. This way we will also know the most frequently found trees and their count,” he added.

Nandinidevi Pant Pratinidhi, who is part of the group, is providing inputs on the role of tree species in the given area. For example, there are fire resistant species, shade bearing and drought resistant trees and those with a medicinal role, among others. These inputs will be added to the application.

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