Vegetation Structure, Species Composition, and Carbon Sink Potential of Urban Green Spaces in Nagpur City, India

Volume (Issue): 9(4)

Nagpur is rapidly urbanizing, and in the process witnessing decline in its green status which is one of the identities of the city. The study aims to understand the current species diversity, composition and structure in different classes of greens prevalent in the city. As urban green spaces (UGS) are also reservoirs of carbon stock, the study estimates their biomass. Through rigorous field work, data were collected from 246 sample plots across various UGS classes as pre-stratification. Then the biomass was estimated using non-destructive method with species-specific equation. The diversity of tree species recorded in UGS varies, with high diversity recorded in avenue plantation and institutional compounds. The overall variation in species composition among UGS classes was 36.8%. While in managed greens the species composition was similar, in institutional greens and forest it was different. Particularly, in forest the evenness was high with low diversity and low species richness. The structural distribution indicate lack of old trees in the city, with high number of tree species between diameter classes of 10–40 cm. Biomass was recorded high in road-side plantations (335 t ha−1) and playgrounds (324 t ha−1), and trees with bigger girth size where the main contributors. The dominant species indicates that high growth rate, tolerance to drought and pollution are the key attributes considered for species selection by local authorities. Though the city holds green image, vegetation along the avenues and institutions are stressed, exposed, and threatened by felling activities for grey infrastructure expansions. In such scenario, protection and preservation of older trees is crucial to maintain the carbon stock of the city. In addition, local authorities need to focus on effective afforestation programs through public participation to achieve high survival rate and reduce the maintenance cost. For species selection in addition to phenology and growth rate, tree biomass and life span need to be considered to significantly enhance the urban environment and increase the benefits derived from UGS.