India’s dwindling forests have always been a cause for concern. The problem becomes even more profound when one begins to notice the impact of deforestation on local wildlife. With forested areas growing smaller and buffer zones being taken over by the local community for farming and miscellaneous activities, the number of tigers in the country has taken a hit.
But there is some good news. Mumbai-based organisation, Grow Trees, has now started tree-plantation projects on the peripheries of wildlife sanctuaries such as the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, and the Sariska Tiger Reserve and Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary in Rajasthan. They have also completed a similar plantation project on the periphery of Satkosia Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha.
“People are passionate about the environment, forests and wildlife, but lack the ability and resources to plant trees or make a difference. By giving them the ability to plant a tree (Rs 50 per sapling) with a few clicks, we make plantation accessible to everyone. Instead of giving greeting cards to friends and family for birthdays, users can use our website to send a personalised e-certificate and plant trees in these areas on their behalf,” says Karan Shah of Grow Trees. The group plants trees that are indigenous to the area. “We plant only species that maintain the biodiversity. These include jungle jalebi, amla, sitaphal and mango among others.”
These plantings are carried out in collaboration with NGOs that have field offices on the sites. They obtain permissions from state authorities, forest departments and panchayats.
“We have started tree planting projects in the periphery of wildlife sanctuaries to benefit both the wildlife and communities in these areas. Our objective is to reforest areas and create wildlife corridors. The trees also provide rural communities with fruit, fodder and non-timber forest produce. This augments their income and prevents man-animal conflict by preventing them from straying into the core areas of the park,” says Shah, adding that the group will take up similar projects next year.