THE ONGOING tree census by the BMC will not include mangroves. The BMC had been in the process of considering whether mangrove mapping could also be included in the census. Civic officials had said a proposal was also sent to the environment ministry to seek permission.
A senior official said there were various difficulties that led to mangroves not being included in the census. “The census involved counting individual trees by measuring their girth, height and recognising the species. Mangroves can’t be counted individually because of their density and since they grow in a marshy land, they will have to be mapped in terms of the square-metre area they cover. This process is different from the tree census where individual count in being carried out,” said the official who did not wish to be named. Further, the trees are on collector’s land with some of the areas notified as reserved or protected forests, making the process difficult.
Activists working in the field of mangrove conservation said though the BMC may not have been an expert authority to map mangroves, there is an urgent need to undertake mapping in the city. “There are many areas across the city and its outskirts where rampant reclamation by destructing mangroves has been happening for many years. They are sensitive specie and have an entire ecosystem in them that needs to be preserved. There is also transparency required in the status of compensatory afforestation efforts done to replant mangroves,” said Nandkumar Pawar of NGO Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan. “If mapping is conducted, there will be clarity about afforestation and we will know exactly how much mangrove cover is lost to reclamation in the city,” he added.