#GoodNews: This Bengaluru-Based Project Can Make You Talk to Trees
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/talkingearthorg/photos/gm.780407082135364/1876091989320268/?type=3&amp;theater">Talking Earth</a>)
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Talking Earth)

#GoodNews: This Bengaluru-Based Project Can Make You Talk to Trees

Bengaluru has lost over 17,000 trees in the past nine years, according to a report published by BBMP in March. As India’s Garden City struggles with its green cover, an upcoming project in the city might enable people to talk to trees, as Better India writes.

Varun Hemachandran, the founder of Talking Earth, a community initiative to facilitate environment protection using data and technology talks about the need for tree-mapping and its importance in the process of conservation.

Talking Earth was an accidental project that the former advertising professional began, after he moved to Bengaluru a year ago. He joined the Citizens for Bangalore initiative, in hopes of meeting like-minded people, joined campaigns for protection, including the recent drive against steel flyover construction.

It was discovered that 2,000 trees would need to be axed to make way for the flyover. The project was scrapped after vehement citizen opposition.

Hemachandran then took the cause of Talking Earth forward.

We collect all forms of data, and not just trees. We gather the data and put it on our mapping platform for people to access.

The organisation can also contribute to data gathering for income reports, demographic studies, rainwater data apart from tree-mapping. They also hold workshops for those interested in ecology and develop seed banks.

Currently, Talking Earth is active in Bengaluru and Chennai and has volunteers as far as Dubai and Netherlands.

Tree-mapping is the process of recording and gathering data on trees, which can reveal details about it like their impact on soil conditions, rain etc. Trees which are mapped are marked by hashtags.

Hemachandran says their data on trees can help the government and environmental bodies in afforestation attempts more efficiently, as he cites an example of tree plantation drive in Kolar.

In Kolar, the eucalyptus trees can absorb up to 90 litres of water and the farmers in the region are struggling with water crisis. If they had access to the right data, the havoc could have been avoided.

The initiative aims to make the data more accessible and simpler to interpret and one way to do this is through Maitree – a chatbot that enables conversations with the trees.

We will have a chatbot connected to the physical trees and attach it to our datasets. It will be possible to have a conversation with trees, and the chatbot will be able to answer the questions. For instance, you can ask the tree if it had its lunch and the tree will respond with answers (on its nutrition levels). It is currently open to a limited number of testers and we will take around 6-7 months to launch a test pilot.  

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