Blog entry

Mapping Bangalore’s Trees: A Citizen Science Initiative

What is being done?

Trees are a valuable part of our ecosystem and neighborhood as they provide a habitat for the variety of biodiversity found in the city, including several species of birds, butterflies and small mammals, including the rare Slender Loris. An understanding of where the trees are around our neighborhood, would not only help us appreciate our wooden friends, but also help us preserve them better. With this intention, Gubbi Labs has embarked upon carrying out a tree census in Bangalore. Several citizens have already come forward to learn about tree identification and the different tools used in mapping. Currently, as part of Neralu 2017, the tree festival, scheduled on Feb 18th and 19th, citizens young and old are mapping the trees in Indiranagar, Basavanagudi, Electronics City and Cooke Town. Schools are encouraged to participate in the mapping activity, which could help create awareness and appreciation, among the students, about the importance of trees.

Earlier, on Republic Day - January 26, 2017 a Tree Identification and Mapping workshop was organized by Gubbi Labs at IISc. This was led by Dr. Shrikanth Gunaga and Dr. Jagadish who introduced the participants to the fundamentals of tree identification. This was followed by a field session where participants mapped and measured different characteristics of the trees within the IISc campus. Methods to mapping trees was also shared during the workshop.  

What we plan to do!

People usually follow a reactive approach and start worrying about the biodiversity of a particular area only when a project which threatens the biodiversity is proposed. The idea is to have sufficient data in place beforehand, so that if future projects, such as the steel flyover, are proposed in biodiversity rich areas, it can be evaluated in a scientific manner. And since the citizens have participated in mapping the trees, they will be in a better position to understand its significance.

The goal is to map all the trees of Bangalore and monitor them annually. Tools like Open Tree Map with OpenStreetMap basemap is the platform which citizens can use to map trees in their neighborhood and collect data about each tree. All the information collected is made freely available to the public. With increased participation we can even hope to view the status of each tree in real time in the future. Once the location of our green cover is known, it becomes a powerful tool in future conservation efforts.

Read related story in The Hindu here.

How you can help!

People have already started contributing to the mapping of Bangalore’s trees. Volunteers have plotted trees in Lalbagh, Domlur, Cubbon Road, Basaveshwaranagar and several other places using open source maps.

There are numerous open tools available which can be used. You can follow the link below to start mapping trees: https://gubbilabs.github.io/tree-map/

One can start by mapping the trees in their backyard and streets by accessing the mapping application either on their smart phones or computers. Some of the attributes such as species name, tree height, girth measurements and canopy width can provide valuable information which can be used by scientists and nature enthusiasts alike to help improve the urban environment.

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