According to the reports of the Environment Impact and Assessment Resource and Response Centre, on an average of 135 hectares (333 acres) of forest land, a day was given for power, mining and other development projects last year. India today has a total forest cover in India is at 21%, which is behind the prescribed norm of 33% of total geographical are of the country according to Indian government policy.
The Green warriors of Bengaluru
A Bengaluru-based NGO "SayTrees" is relentlessly working to restore the green coverage in the silicon valley of the country. SayTrees is trying to restore "The City of Gardens" status of Bengaluru. SayTrees include a group of ordinary people with the extraordinary determination to protect the environment not just by themselves, but also by sensitising others towards the importance of environment conservation and goading them on to participate in tree plantation campaigns.
Words from the Founder
Kapil Sharma, the founder of SayTrees told The Logical Indian, "Fully grown trees are being brought down for small to large projects with claims that much more will be planted to balance the loss. Due to indiscriminate cutting down of trees, the water table is decreasing, the temperature is rising, drought and floods are happening every year, pollution is also at its peak. We even saw war over water in Bangalore. I only wonder what will happen decades from now? Trees are reducing in Kodagu region, which invariably is resulting in the reduction of rainfall, this is reducing the water level in the river. How can rivers supply water to multiple states if rain is less? And this is just one river. The same must be happening all around the country."
On September 24, the organisation planted 50 varieties of 2,000 saplings in KR Puram, Bengaluru, using Japanese method called "Miyawaki", which involves planting of numerous contrastive saplings, close to each other. The purpose behind this is to embellish the greenery and enrich the lavishness of the land.
Working model of SayTrees
SayTrees works in tandem with government bodies and citizens to make their work sustainable. It identifies places in the city to plant trees in collaboration with Indian railways, Indian Army, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) departments that have a lot of unused places with them. These places would be the places where no further development is planned which makes sure that the saplings won't be brought down. It is important to plant the sapling in places where there is least human interference.
It is easy to plant trees but the most important part is the maintenance of those saplings. At SayTrees, the focus is on quality and not the quantity.
SayTrees have a very impressive record of 90% of survival rate out of 69,000+ saplings planted.
Durgesh, head of partnerships and projects at SayTrees said, "We have a very strict maintenance plan. Firstly, we plant saplings that are at least 5.5 ft and above, meaning they are already one-and-a-half-years old . We plant saplings only in the monsoons. Rains are very important for the saplings. Post plantations, we start our maintenance drives from January until May end. We will water all the saplings at least once a fortnight. Volunteers would turn up to help us. Maintenance involves removal of weeds, tilling of the land, leaf mulching and watering of the saplings. "
To maintain regular inflow of volunteers, SayTrees started associating with various groups like trekking clubs, cycling clubs, colleges etc. Bangalore Trekking Club is SayTrees's official social partner, which helps to provide volunteers in every event, plantations and maintenance alike.
Most inspiring moments can be seen on the ground when parents get their kids along and teach them about tree plantation. Our drives involve 10-15 mins of talks on the importance of environment conservation and impacts of climate change and how we can fight it.
SayTrees has ventured into agroforestry projects to help poor farmers in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh and Bagepalli village of Karnataka. With this project, SayTrees is trying to improve employment by planting fruits bearing saplings with help from villagers to support them with a sustainable source of income. This initiative is not only directly benefiting the marginal farmers but also have an impact on the environment. Saplings once grew will increase the green cover of the area, so overall forest cover will increase which will help in increasing the rainfall and groundwater eventually in the longer run. Such projects provide food security.
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