Efforts being made to document distribution of 7,500 tree species. Andhra Loyola College Botany Department head B. Sivakumari says educational institutions should participate in the campaign.

The value of a tree becomes more pronounced in summer as its shade protects us from the scorching sun. Vendors and hawkers scurry to secure a place in a tree shade while vehicle owners jostle for a spot in the cool shade of trees that have become scarce.

The importance of trees in urban landscapes is indisputable. They provide a wide range of “ecosystem services” like cleaning the air, harbouring biodiversity and providing shade and aesthetics to concrete jungles.

The India Biodiversity Portal is conducting a five-day-long ‘Neighbourhood Tree Campaign’ from April 22 to mark the Earth Day.

Rich tree diversity

As part of the campaign, efforts are being made to document distribution of 7,500 tree species that exist in the country and conserve India’s rich tree diversity.

Andhra Loyola College Botany Department head B. Sivakumari says educational institutions should participate in the campaign. The participants can map, take photographs and describe trees in their neighbourhood and upload the data on to the portal http://treesindia.indiabiodiversity.org.

The portal would eventually become an open access repository of biodiversity information. Photographs, locations and stories could be shared by individuals and groups in the campaign. Vijayawada based ethnobotanist N. Venugopal says Indians have a great relationship with trees.

The fruits, flowers and leaves are used extensively to worship and for other activities. “There is a need to protect trees and this campaign will go a long way in doing it,” he said.

Environmental activists P. Jeganathan says more people from Andhra Pradesh should participate.

The response to the campaign is very good in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala so far, according to an image giving statistics on the portal.

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