GOVERNMENT OF INDIAGOVERNMENT OF INDIA
A Digital India Initiative

Adopt -A-Tree Concept

June 25, 2019 Author : Rahul Jagtap

Introduction

The Forest Department, Government of Maharashtra has taken up the 50 crore plantation program intended to increase the forest cover in the state from the current 22% to the nationally mandated 33% of Maharashtra’s land area.There are massive tree plantations driven by the honorable Chief Minister for the past two years. 4 Crore saplings in 2017, 13 crore saplings in 2018 and 33 crore saplings in 2019. Students and other volunteers have contributed to these programs. Massive plantations have been done within the Pune Municipal Corporation too, in these drives.

For any tree-planting drive to be successful, it is important to ensure that the saplings that are planted grow up to become robust trees. Saplings need to be nurtured / watered for the first 5 years. Apart from the recently planted saplings, the tree census of Pune has identified rare species, and trees in poor condition, too. These trees may benefit from care and efforts to multiply the rare species are needed.

This note puts forward the idea of a campaign, “Adopt a Tree”. Central to this campaign would be a state-of-the-art technology platform. This concept note focuses on this technology platform “Adopt a Tree” with an idea to seek sponsorship from the concerned decision makers within PMC.

This would be a platform through which public and private entities could be engaged in the process of nurturing trees / saplings. The program would help foster the engagement of communities with the environment and also provide a sustainable mechanism to improve the green-cover and therefore a cleaner environment.

A prominent Indian example of such engagement is the Adopt a Tree Campaign,successfully run by WWF-India,in six cities(https://support.wwfindia.org/aat/org.html), with the aim of encouraging both individuals and organizations to plant and care for native species of trees. Since then, thousands of trees have been planted and cared for by people. WWF-India receives updates and photos on how their trees are doing! This platform is not GIS enabled, therefore.

As another example, the City of Boston runs a campaign “Adopt a fire hydrant”. This platforms uses geo-spatial technology and invites the citizens to claim responsibility for shoveling out a fire hydrant after it snows. The platform has been built through volunteering efforts of programmers called Code for America.

Technology Platforms Related to Trees

There are a number of related platforms that exist with the Government of Maharashtra and the PMC.

  • The Forest Department has created a mobile application called ‘My Plants’to record details of the plantations such as numbers, species and location into the computer system of the Forest Department. All volunteers at individual, collective and organizational level contributing to the tree plantations are expected to download and use this application to record their tree plantation work through the application. This application is a one-way traffic. There is no data / information shared for the benefit of the citizens. It was launched and used successfully during the plantations in 2017.
  • The Forest Department has also created an on-line channel for public engagement, partnership, sharing and dissemination. ‘Maharashtra HaritSena’/ ‘Green Army’ is a body of dedicated volunteers to participate in the plantation, protection, and activities in forest, wildlife, and related sectors round the year. The members of this Green Army who are from Pune could be leveraged for the Adopt-a-tree campaign.
  • PMC’s GIS and GPS-enabled tree census is nearing completion. Census for about 37 lakh trees has been completed so far. The Department has released the data for a few wards in the public domain http://treecensus.punecorporation.org/. This data corresponds to ~32 lakh trees which are geo-spatially mapped. This platform provides a good baseline for the adopt-a-tree campaign. It should be possible to extend this platform. The Department could identify the saplings / trees that need to be adopted and the volunteering individuals / groups/ organizations could take responsibility for nurturing the trees. Analysis of the data that has been released identifies 12698 trees of the rare species.
  • 0 has a social engagement mechanism. This could be effectively leveraged for the Adopt-a-Tree campaign.

“Adopt-a-Tree” Platform Requirements

Important features of such a platform are given below. These will need to be refined. The platform needs to be developed like a social network game e.g. Farmville.

  • Earmark trees for Adoption: Department users should be able to identify the trees that are available for adoption in multiple ways
    • Physically ring fencing certain areas
    • Searching based on attribute ranges
  • Select trees for Adoption: Volunteers – individuals / organizations, should be able to select the trees that are available for adoption. Final confirmation may be provided by the Department
  • Blog section
  • My Reports / Dashboard
  • Registration of volunteers – individuals / organizations:
    • Guidelines for volunteer registration could be sourced from http://www.greenarmy.mahaforest.gov.in./index.php?lang=Eng
    • sign-in / user authentication
    • Forgot password, Change Password
  • Administrative login: This covers department users who will be able to identify the trees that require adoption, approve requests for adoption. It also includes the platform maintenance staff.
  • Terms of Service, etc.
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