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MCD counts 198,000 trees in first tree census | Latest News Delhi

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s ambitious first-ever tree census is nearing completion, with horticulture officials meticulously counting and mapping nearly 200,000 trees across the city’s 12 zones.

MCD manages 15,226 municipal parks spread across a total area of 5,172 acres. (HT Photo)

Preliminary data shows Keshavpuram and South zones had the highest number of trees — 64,383 and 43,810 respectively — while Karol Bagh has 25,122 trees spread across 762 parks spanning 254 acres.

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Close to 80% of the area under MCD has been covered and the trees counted are mostly those dotting roadsides and populating the city’s parks in the 12 administrative zone — Central, South, West, Najafgarh, Rohini, Civil Lines, Karol Bagh, SP-City, Keshavpuram, Narela, Shahdara North and Shahdara South.

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The number of trees identified so far was put at 198,117, officials said, but this number does not include the city’s forests that fall under the Forest department and the verdant New Delhi district, which is under the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC).

MCD manages 15,226 municipal parks spread across a total area of 5,172 acres.

According to senior civic officials, enumerators have fanned out across the capital, armed with specialised apps to record each tree’s precise geo-coordinates and assign it a unique identification number. The exercise, which commenced on December 13, was initially slated for completion within 15 days but has taken longer than anticipated due to the sheer magnitude of the task.

“The painting of tree numbers is taking time. Many zones have undertaken the enumeration exercise but reports have not been submitted. The project is 80% complete and it will be wrapped up in next three to four weeks,” a senior MCD official overseeing the census said.

Civic officials say the census will bolster the corporation’s efforts to maintain and expand Delhi’s green lungs more efficiently. “This exercise will enable easy identification of trees and will also help in their periodic pruning. The counting of trees will help in controlling illegal tree cutting and ensuring green spaces are maintained,” Mayor Shelly Oberoi said while announcing the census in December.

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The data collected includes not just the location but also the species of each tree, with over 60 varieties identified so far. The most ubiquitous are Arjun, Neem, Pilkhan, Maulsari, Haarsingar, Amaltas, Peepal, Jamun and Sheesham while Mahua, Jungle Jalebi, Date Palm and Chamrod made up some of the rarer species found in the city.

“After the survey is completed, a third-party audit will be carried out to get the survey verified. Information on concretisation of the trees is also being gathered for de-concretization drive,” official added.

The census has flagged several thousand trees that need of deconcretisation, a pressing issue that the MCD plans to address promptly. “We will now start writing to the civil department to initiate the deconcretisation of these identified trees,” the official added.

According to MCD records of organised green spaces, 90% of the city’s parks are housing area parks smaller than 5,000 square metre in size. These parks act as breathing spaces for the residential areas.

Padmavati Dwivedi, an environmentalist and tree expert, welcomed the initiative but emphasized the importance of community involvement. “The census can not be a mechanical exercise and they should also capture other parameters like girth of tree. Simply, capturing geocordinates may not be enough as it has variation of few meters which could have more than one tree. More importantly, this data should be made public so that people can verify it and there is greater citizen voice,” she said.

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The New Delhi Municipal Council, which oversees the green spaces in Lutyens’ Delhi, had completed a similar census in 2020 at a cost of 52.5 lakh. The exercise captured intricate details such as each tree’s girth, height, crown area, deformities, blooming seasons, carbon dioxide intake, and oxygen-releasing capacity.

The MCD census, however, has only collected data on the number of trees, their species and location. The last time

The forest department is gearing up to conduct its inaugural tree census later this year, with city forests slated for enumeration next year with the assistance of volunteers.

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