Environmental Management

, Volume 55, Issue 6, pp 1390–1401 | Cite as

Vegetation in Bangalore’s Slums: Composition, Species Distribution, Density, Diversity, and History



There is widespread acknowledgement of the need for biodiversity and greening to be part of urban sustainability efforts. Yet we know little about greenery in the context of urban poverty, particularly in slums, which constitute a significant challenge for inclusive development in many rapidly growing cities. We assessed the composition, density, diversity, and species distribution of vegetation in 44 slums of Bangalore, India, comparing these to published studies on vegetation diversity in other land-use categories. Most trees were native to the region, as compared to other land-use categories such as parks and streets which are dominated by introduced species. Of the most frequently encountered tree species, Moringa oleifera and Cocos nucifera are important for food, while Ficus religiosa plays a critical cultural and religious role. Tree density and diversity were much lower in slums compared to richer residential neighborhoods. There are also differences in species preferences, with most plant (herb, shrub and vines) species in slums having economic, food, medicinal, or cultural use, while the species planted in richer residential areas are largely ornamental. Historic development has had an impact on species distribution, with older slums having larger sized tree species, while recent slums were dominated by smaller sized tree species with greater economic and food use. Extensive focus on planting trees and plant species with utility value is required in these congested neighborhoods, to provide livelihood support.


India Poverty Urban ecology Urban vegetation 



We thank Raja for assistance with data collection and Somajita Paul for GIS assistance. We also thank Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and SIDA, Sweden, for their financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Divya Gopal
    • 1
    • 2
  • Harini Nagendra
    • 3
    • 4
  • Michael Manthey
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Ecosystem Science/Plant EcologyTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Botany and Landscape EcologyErnst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  3. 3.School of DevelopmentAzim Premji UniversityBangaloreIndia
  4. 4.Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change (CIPEC)Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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