Lucknow’s Expanding Green Cover Signals Environmental Improvement

The recent increase in green cover across Lucknow and the state of Uttar Pradesh has led to notable environmental improvements, according to forest officials. This burgeoning greenery is contributing to more frequent sightings of various animals, including wild carnivores and rare birds, in both urban and rural areas.

Tangible Benefits of Increased Greenery

Former Divisional Forest Officer of Lucknow, Ravi Singh, highlighted the gradual impact of increased green cover. “No real impact can be seen in just two or three years. To see a tangible improvement in the environment in terms of flora and fauna, we would have to wait at least a few decades, if not a century, to see any solid difference that points to an improvement which may restore the balance of the ecosystem to any degree,” he stated.

Between 2019 and 2021, Lucknow’s green cover grew by 8.33%, with further growth from 2021 to 2023 expected to be published later in 2024. The Forest Survey of India reported in 2023 that Uttar Pradesh’s total green cover now stands at 9.23% of the entire land area, amounting to over 22,000 square kilometers.

Enhancing Biodiversity

PK Srivastava, a former scientist at the Central Drug Research Institute, emphasized the role of diverse tree species in enhancing biodiversity. “Trees play a crucial role by absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and minimizing the impact of climate change on biodiversity. A mixed range of tree species provides habitats for birds, insects, and bees, thereby increasing biodiversity,” he explained.

He also stressed the importance of choosing saplings that support biodiversity. “There are certain species that do not support biodiversity, and such trees should be avoided,” he added.

Wildlife Sightings and Improved Air Quality

Ravi Singh pointed out the environmental benefits of the increased green cover, including cleaner air and more frequent animal sightings. Notably, there have been increased sightings of leopards and the rare Paradise Flycatcher in Lucknow. “The Paradise Flycatcher, a rare bird with a tail three times longer than its body, was surprisingly seen in Lucknow,” he noted.

In the last five years, the number of storks in the area has risen from 13,670 to 17,586, according to reports.

Urban Green Spaces

A study by the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) in Ahmedabad highlighted that Lucknow Municipal Records showed the city had 1,684 parks and gardens under their jurisdiction, covering 259 hectares as of 2020.

B Prabhakar, member secretary of the State Biodiversity Board under the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, praised the efforts of government agencies in preserving biodiversity. He mentioned that over 200 species of birds can be found in Lucknow alone. “The plantation drives have greatly helped in improving the biodiversity of the state. In few years, we will see even more animals and birds returning to our forests,” he said.

Community Involvement

Aditi Sharma, director of the Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden, acknowledged the collaborative efforts between government initiatives and citizen participation. “Depending on which department you ask, you will find different concerns about biodiversity from each one. But it must be said that initiatives like the government-organized plantation drives, as well as our ventures at the zoo to involve citizens in the caretaking of animals, have increased the collective consciousness to preserve nature in all its forms,” she concluded.

The increase in Lucknow’s green cover is a promising start towards long-term environmental improvements. As this green cover continues to expand, it is expected to lead to significant positive changes in biodiversity and ecosystem health over the coming decades.

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