Tree cover is 15 % in Chennai

After Cyclone Vardah in December 2016, the Chennai Corporation has done very little to replace the lost green cover in the city. Over 1,00,000 trees were lost in the core city area and suburbs. The civic body had assured the residents that it would replace the greenery in phases. However, no significant greening programme was initiated by the Corporation.

Now, a year later, the civic body officials are planning to increase green cover by planting trees in median, pedestrian pathways, along waterways and public transport facilities such as MRTS. Arterial roads will have trees of a crown width of 10-15 metre.

The 200-foot road in Madhavaram, Ennore High Road, Velachery to Nanganallur Road will be some of the stretches getting a makeover with better green cover. Small roads will have a canopy of about 10 metre width. Coastal areas will have salt tolerant and wind tolerant trees, said an official. Nochikuppam will be among the areas to get green cover.

Place for learning

“We are planning to develop urban forest in Madambakkam in 33 acres. It will be a place for community learning on greening and allied sciences,” said an official. The urban forest will have zones for birds, butterflies, herbs, dry forest, palm, rare plants and aquatic landscape.

The Corporation has estimated the existing green cover in the city at 64.06 sq km. According to the Master Plan and Detailed Project Report for plantation strategy for the Corporation, Adyar has the largest number of trees in the city. The study has suggested 100 species of hardy and durable trees that are non-invasive and attractive. “The new survey points to an existing green cover of over 15 % of the entire city. We will increase the tree cover to 33 %,” said an official.

According to the study by the Corporation and Care Earth Trust, Copper pod, Indian beech, Neem, Gulmohar, Raintree and Tropical almond are the six most dominant species in the city. The study indicated that the overall extent of ‘open space’ in the city is 34.58 sq km. Civic body officials will explore options to increase the green cover in this area, after checking first where this area falls.

“Totally 121 species of trees belonging to 94 Genera and 42 families are recorded,” said Jayashree Venkatesan, of Care Earth Trust. Teynampet zone with 68 species has the largest diversity of tree species in Chennai. Manali with just 38 species has the lowest diversity. Adyar zone with 51 parks has the largest number of parks in the city. Tiruvottiyur zone has just four parks.

However, stakeholders, including residents associations who participated in a meeting at Ripon Buildings recently, said the civic body officials are yet to create awareness on greening of the city.

A resident who participated in the meeting said that the zonal-level officials had asked them to participate in the meeting without informing them about the agenda of the meeting. “The concept of sensitive greening has to seep into every layer of society. Everyone has to be a stakeholder. These are things the planners have to talk about,” said Shobha Menon of Nizhal.

“I visit the park every day. I also wanted to participate in the greening initiative. But the officials did not inform us. Are we really serious about a stakeholders meeting? Again, it becomes like a farce,” said R.B.Saravanan, a resident of Nungambakkam.

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