The world is now realizing the need to save our forests and our wildlife in order to ensure that our own species and the planet as we know it. This is because human actions, over the centuries, which have accelerated in recent decades, have cleared much of the world’s forests for agriculture, mining and other infrastructure projects. .
The repercussions of this have already become visible in the form of global warming and climate change which has become an existential threat to us and everything around us.
To ensure that we leave a habitable planet for our future generations, we must save our forests and our wildlife, this is the message that a Mumbai-based social enterprise has been spreading for over a decade now.
Mumbai-based Grow-Trees has planted over 9 million trees in India since 2010 and has helped several forests regrow and restore vulnerable ecosystems.
How it started
Grow-Trees was founded in 2010. Bikrant Tiwary, a former IIM Calcutta is its CEO, and over the past 11 years has undertaken nearly a hundred projects across the country. This includes rural and urban areas.
“Grow-Trees began as a platform to encourage people to grow trees instead of giving gifts to celebrate festivals, birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions using our personalized eTreeCertificate. then we expanded our reach to 23 states across India and planted over 9 million trees, ”Tiwari told Indiatimes.
9 million trees, 753,000 days of work
According to him, Grow-Trees, is today one of the largest non-governmental tree planting groups in the world and has provided over 753,000 days of direct employment, mainly for tribes and women; these trees will absorb more than 182 million kg of carbon each year at maturity.
As the forest cover expands, there is also subsequent growth in wildlife and overall ecosystem health.
Projects have also been launched in many regions to conserve the declining populations of species designated as threatened or vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Sun bears, red pandas, tigers, elephants, Indian giant flying squirrels, Himalayan black bears, sloth bears and leopards are some of these animals. We have also started planting efforts in different regions of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh following the loss of forest land in the North East region.
In Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, Grow-Trees planted more than 400,000 trees in hamlets on the outskirts of the reserve as part of the “Trees for Tigers Project”.
“The plantations in this region were intended to improve the natural habitat of the Rajasthan tigers, which have been severely affected by poaching and infrastructure development. was at a level of 400 feet underground. The Forestry Department said ST6 and T10 tigers have been spotted in the project area with an increase in the peacock and deer population due to commendable habitat restoration, ”Tiwari said.
Likewise, in Ramtek, Maharashtra, a total of 236,022 has been planted by Grow-Trees, which has helped in the restoration of the Pench Tiger Reserve buffer zone. This has resulted in a reduction in human-animal conflict, as wild animals such as wild boars, leopards and other feral cats no longer venture into human settlements in search of food.
Apart from restoring forests, wildlife, water bodies and absorbing carbon emissions, Grow-Trees has also made its projects inclusive and beneficial for locals, especially the tribals living in and around the forests.
“So far we have been able to provide 753,000 days of direct employment, mainly for tribals and women. activities in an efficient and sustainable manner. Involving local communities in planting activities creates jobs and provides an additional source of income for villagers, farmers and tribal communities. that local communities are fully engaged in all of our plantation projects across the country. In 2020, when the pandemic had paralyzed the whole world, we initiated the planting of more than 2.6 million trees with the help of the inhabitants who suffered the most from reverse migration, ”said Tiwari.
According to Tiwari, it is not only large companies or groups that can sponsor a tree, but even individuals for as little as Rs 85.
“As part of our ‘Greet with Trees’ programs, anyone can contribute to the planting of a tree for a nominal cost of Rs 85. An eTreeCertificate will be digitally given to the recipient to inform them of your noble gesture and Individuals can plant one or more trees as part of their greetings as well as establish a grove or ‘group greeting’ to include multiple people in their greetings / gift, ”he said.
Tiwari says he’s happy to see the growing public awareness of forest conservation, but admits that more needs to be done, both by government and private citizens to increase forest cover.
“The forest cover of our country is increasing, however, it is still below the 33% of the total geographic area targeted by the country’s forest policy. We believe that planting trees is the answer to many of today’s environmental problems. While the government has undertaken many efforts to raise awareness of the seriousness of environmental deterioration, it is only when people and businesses recognize their impact on the environment that we can work together to make a greater difference. larger, more visible and sustainable, ”Tiwari said.