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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A green app to map trees,build up database

Pune’s biodiversity is as rich as its culture and heritage but citizens in general are not aware of the rich flora,particularly in the hill areas around the city,or about the continuously efforts by private companies and individuals,besides the forest department to maintain it by planting new trees.

Written by Anjali Jhangiani KP | Published: April 7, 2013 2:01:00 am

Pune’s biodiversity is as rich as its culture and heritage but citizens in general are not aware of the rich flora,particularly in the hill areas around the city,or about the continuously efforts by private companies and individuals,besides the forest department to maintain it by planting new trees.

An android application (app) that can help build a database on trees,designed by a Pune-based IT expert,is set to take citizens closer to nature by involving them in the effort. The app designed to record information about the city’s biodiversity is available to citizens,particularly nature lovers. Sanjay Athavale,who designed the app,says,“The app is useful for nature lovers and simple to use. You just have to photograph a tree you spot on the hill area or anywhere else in Pune and press a button marked ‘send to server’.

Experts will upload the information on our server. Since android phones are equipped with high megapixel cameras,our indigenous application automatically reduces photo size before sending it to the server to save data usage,” says Athavale,director of Mobile Sutra and founder of website greenhillsgroup.com,an informative portal that has data about trees in and around Pune.

The app idea had in fact branched from the website. “Many people give donations to NGOs to plant trees,but are not sure whether the specified number of trees are really planted and if so whether they are being taken care of. Some people plant trees just for the sake of it and do not look after them. A year later,they plant trees at the very spot. To put an end to this incorrect method of trying to protect the environment,we came up with this app. One can track trees and also get updated information about them,” says Athavale. Considering the mobile network problems on the outskirts of the city including the hill areas,the app has a provision to store photographs and the GPS location of the photograph,which can be uploaded whenever the user gets within range or within a WiFi network. Once the photograph is clicked and uploaded,the user is requested to mark the tree with red paint to avoid the process being duplicated by other users.

The data uploaded is available on greenhillsgroup.com where one can select the name of the hill to view the number of trees on Google map. The location of trees is displayed on the map as markers with trees as icons.

One can simply scroll over the markers to view a pop up that displays information like the contributor of the data,name of species of tree and more. A separate table displays other attributes and the tree count.

The website has information about over 600 trees planted in the six hill areas of Baner,Chaturshingi,the forest land behind ARAI,Hanuman Tekdi,Mhatoba hill and Tukai tekdi Baner,around the city. It took Athavale a month to come up with the app and he gave it to team of nature lovers that collects data for his website,to test the app and detect any bugs.

Athavale realised the need of the app so that more people could contribute to the database and in turn get to know about the vast biodiversity. “Any nature lover can join in and help us build our database. Once they decide to be part of this project,they can connect with other nature groups and take up activities like watering the plants or contribute to the conservation effort in some other way,” said Athavale. The app is available for free download at the website,or Google Play.

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