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Who wants to live in a concrete jungle? Green spaces and trees are the 'wildlife corridors' in many urban landscapes. Protecting them improves the quality of life for citizens, because they contribute positively to the local environment, plus they bring health, social and economic benefits.

In Pune, one of the world's fastest-growing cities – and the sixth largest in India – trees are a vital part of the city's way of life. But that way of life is under threat. Pune, on the outskirts of India's financial capital, Mumbai, is a commercial IT hub that's changing rapidly. Its population now stands at 3.1 million and is growing fast. This has created enormous pressure on the city to expand – and trees are often in the sights of developers and construction plans.

Turning over a new leaf

When managing a fast growing city, you aren’t just managing infrastructure, services and buildings – you are also managing green spaces. To do this you need to document what you already have. However, as Pune expanded, the city's trees were being cut down without any record or recourse. This was counter to Pune's goal of being a cleaner, greener city.

Given the urgency, the problem needed quick answers. Working with SAP, the City created a clever mobile app to conduct a tree survey. It plots GPS location, takes a photo, and even works out the type of tree. The solution is cost-effective, efficient, and paperless. And because it's so easy to use, the City has been able to recruit a small army of volunteers to gather data. In fact, collection per tree reduced from 10 to two minutes compared to paper-based methods. This community participation also created a sense of ownership for the trees and deepened environmental understanding.

Transformation creates liveability

Many cities across the world are growing almost as fast as Pune. According to McKinsey, there are currently 35 cities in Europe with over 3 million residents. By 2025, there will be an estimated 221 cities of that size in China alone.

To make sure we continue to improve urban living, the way we manage our cities needs to change as quickly as the physical urban landscape is transforming. Getting the balance right means we can all look forward to a more sustainable, greener, and cleaner future. Take a look