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Tree-mapping app helps citizens preserve data on Goa’s green cover

Apr 14, 2022

In an app driven era, a tree mapping app helps citizens preserve data on India's green cover

PANAJI: It has long been a concern that Goa’s green cover could be rapidly reducing , and that the loss isn’t being balanced with new trees. As an answer to this common worry, an Aldona-based company has developed an app that helps any citizen map trees anywhere in the state.

The app, built by the not-for-profit Living Heritage Foundation (LHF), helps geo-tag threes and preserve data about them, like their health and risk status.The app’s Android version was made operational in March, and the iOS version was launched in August. Yet, over 1,700 trees have already been recorded using it, despite the lockdown in between.

“Once a tree is mapped, we can be sent an SOS using the app if it is on the verge of dying, falling or being felled,” said Renuka Figueiredo of LHF. I”n case the health of a tree is affected, we try to revive it with the help of botanists.” The geo-tagging helps locate the trees easily.

After the app was first made functional in March, it was noticed that those using it had an issue when internet connectivity in the area was not available. Now, the app — developed with the help of an IT company from Goa, Nova Semita — even allows entries in dense forests where there is no internet connectivity available. The data then gets uploaded once the device re-enters a network area.

“The data entered into the app serves as evidence of the tree’s existence. Even recently in Mollem, it was being argued by some that more trees are being cut than for which permissions were issued. This could happen when there is no data available on the trees,” said Figueiredo.

This app’s use is not restricted to Goa, and can be used anywhere in India for tree-mapping.

“The person entering the tree details can record if the tree has flowers, if it is fruiting, if it has termites, or if it is near any highway being expanded. We then get an SOS. The recent re-rooting of a tree carried out at Arambol is a great example. The recovery of the re-rooted tree is being monitored using this app,” said Figueiredo.

The foundation, with Marc Francis, Priya Sule and Mohan Kumar as its directors, is working to minimise conflict between biodiversity and local communities, said Figueiredo.

Those citizens, who are interested in helping geo-tag trees but know little about trees need not worry either. The app’s in-built tutorial guides one on how to go about the mapping.

“Once you have mapped 20-30 trees, you can sign up as a volunteer,” she said. “Phoebe Pereira of the LHF works on project activation, and she goes to different organisations raising awareness among students and citizens about tree mapping with the app.”

The organisation believes that the data collected through the app will be helpful to municipalities to carry out the tree census mandated to be conducted every five years. Besides researchers, the data is also expected to help monitor trees planted as compensation for those cut for development projects.

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