Globally, forest cover is at least one-third less than what it once was and global deforestation continues at around 13 million hectares per year. Global warming is another burning issue and it is the result of excess greenhouse gases, created by burning fossil fuels and destroying tropical rainforests. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major greenhouse gas and trees make great filters of carbon dioxide. According to United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) “Forests are natural and economically important ‘sinks’, sequestrating carbon from the atmosphere and locking it away in trunks and branches. Benefits of trees range from goods and services linked with water supplies, stabilization of soils, purifying the air we breathe, sustaining biodiversity, tourism, providing genetic resources and natural medicines”. Therefore social forestry should be undertaken on a large scale in rural landscape as well as urban milieu. It is time to reverse these trends and restore the balance of ecosystem. The cost of afforestation is miniscule when compared to the price of complacence and feigned ignorance when it comes to drastic climate change and global warming.
HPPI’s Tree Plantation Drive is a response to the substantial climate change and sustainability challenges, like water supply and biodiversity loss. Through proactive advocacy by environmentally conscious partners and HPPI’s project staff, this drive catalysed tree planting action in 6 major states of northern India namely Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It strongly encourages the planting of indigenous trees and plants that are appropriate to the local environment.
Government authorities also joined forces with the people and provided several thousand trees free of cost or at highly subsidised rates. Since plantation needed the advent of monsoon, the nurseries are prepped from the beginning of the year with the help of farmers in Farmers’ Clubs, women in Microfinance and self-help-groups, student-teachers in teacher training institutes and other locals in various districts ensuring that the progress made is steady and sustainable.
Important functions of this drive are raising consciousness towards importance of biodiversity for our well-being. Educational institutes like schools and colleges have been very welcoming of this cause. In some schools visual documentaries were shown on projectors about the causes and ill effects of global warming and climate change. They were also explained the procedure of digging pit holes to plant trees.
The Tree Plantation Drive has mobilized thousands associated with it, into a community of passionate tree planters and lovers who work towards preventing loss of green cover and promoting afforestation.
The various varieties of trees planted are of angiosperm category i.e. some flowering, some fruit bearing and some ornamental like pomegranate, guava, mulberry, hibiscus, rosa sinensis, rose, raat ki rani, moonlight, bougainvillea, neem, sycamore and gulmohar etc. Depending on weather conditions and soil moisture level certain other plants like amla, imly, berries and eucalyptus are also being planted. More than 8,50,000 trees have been planted so far, involving more than 2,00,000 people from 62 projects of HPPI across India. This is a testament to a growing global movement for sustainable environmental solutions. This environment awareness drive educated poor farmers regarding the benefits of terrestrial biological diversity, which also plays a vital role in maintaining forest ecology through pollination and cross germination and in turn helps the agricultural process.
Climate change and global warming are not abstract concepts anymore, time for waiting and watching is over. Tree Plantation drive serves as climate change mitigation movement and works to improve the tree canopy of our neighbourhood and state.