Civic group places Chevella banyans on world map - virtually!

As many as 48 banyan trees on Chevella highway, which are nearly 100 years old, have suffered irreparable damage due to deliberate or accidental burning over the last few years.

This and many other equally startling facts were revealed and recorded during the course of a data gathering exercise by the Nature Lovers of Hyderbad (NLH) , a citizens’ environmental group.

A massive interactive, illustrated database and map of 914 endangered banyan trees was released by members of the NHL on Thursday.

The trees planted during the Nizam’s rule lie along a 46-km stretch of the Chevella-Vikarabad Road. The database is the outcome of a trans-generational citizen science initiative by members of the NLH in collaboration with Hyderabad Urban Lab.

Geo-tagging volunteers from the NLH were in the age group of 12 to 68 years. Twenty volunteers worked for over four days for a month to meticulously record the latitude and longitude of the trees and other observational data, including measurements of girth and prop root length, the group said.

They also photographed each of 914 endangered banyans. Following this massive voluntary exercise, members collated all the information and partnered with Hyderabad Urban Lab to develop story maps, timelines and other techniques to analyse and communicate the condition of the trees.

Natasha Ramarathnam, a development professional, who led the geo-tagging exercise, described both the process and the motivations behind it.  “We have geo-tagged all the 914 banyans on the highway and plotted them on the map. We have documented them so that we can monitor them. Literally, we created an ‘Aadhaar card’ for each tree,” she said.

They said that the database will be publicly accessible and mark the beginning of similar exercises for other logical resources in the more than 7,000 square kilometre region of Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority. These can be used by citizen scientists, policy makers, implementation authorities’ planners and other scientific institutions or agencies, they added.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 8:44:58 pm |