Grow-Trees.com, a social enterprise is providing a cost-effective service to individuals and companies globally to enable planting of trees. Through its web enabled services, the organization is giving every person an opportunity to do his/her bit in protecting the environment.
The rural communities in India have long lived in deprivation. They not only lack the basic amenities to survive but they also find it challenging to make ends meet without access to resources like water, food and regular income. Most of these communities reside in regions with low soil fertility, minimal employment opportunities and polluted water bodies.
Grow-Trees.com, a social enterprise, with an aim to uplift the socio-economic conditions of the rural and tribal communities promoted tree plantation initiatives across India in 2010. The goal is to reconnect these community members to the basics of life.
In the last 10 years, the organisation has expanded to 20 states across India, namely, Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Puducherry, and Punjab. The recent afforestation project in Cherangani Hills, Kenya has taken it on to the global level.
Grow-Trees, with the help of its Project coordinators, planting partners and environmental researchers, selects community lands in need of reforestation and/or afforestation and initiates plantation activities. The trees are planted only on public lands to ensure maximum benefit being provided to the inhabitants of the region.
Awareness drives are organized to involve the rural communities in the plantation process. Meetings are held at the village level educating the Panchayat and the community members about the benefits of the trees, important measures to keep in mind for their upkeep and the plantation process. During these meetings, it is made sure that the value from the trees is conveyed to the community members. Community members are sensitized about the value of trees which keeps them away from overexploiting the land or using it for grazing purposes.
The tree species planted are chosen after long research and consultation with experts and the community members, based on the latter’s needs. Often, plants species that hold ethnic, ayurvedic as well as economic value to the local rural communities are planted to preserve the local biodiversity. Based on the features of the soil, rain patterns in the region and economic, medicinal and social needs of the rural communities and the wildlife, the suitable tree species are sourced and bred in local nurseries. For eg., mangroves are planted in the periphery of Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal as a measure towards disaster management from the impending cyclones that frequently hit the Bay of Bengal. In recent studies, it has also been highlighted that due to the shield of trees in and around the Sundarbans National Park, massive damages from natural calamities have been prevented in Kolkata.
In order to achieve higher survival rate, saplings are first raised in the nurseries and then transported to the plantation sites upon maturity. The rural communities are involved in various activities during the plantation process, i.e., raising saplings in the nursery, transporting of saplings to the plantation site, site clearance and pit-digging, plantation of saplings and watering the field etc. This has generated employment to the tribal-rural communities, especially for women on a daily-wage basis.
Since the trees belong to the community, they are the sole recipients of all the socio-economic benefits from those trees. Communities decide whether they need to consume or market the harvest from fruit trees and the NTFPs (Non-Timber Forest Produce) in the local markets. Once mature, the NTFPs also provide sustainable sources of income to the members throughout their lives.
Results and impact
Gifted to the nation on the World Environment Day of 2010, this organisation has planted over 4.5 million trees across 20 states of India, generating approximately 370,000 workdays of employment for the rural communities.
Over 4.5 million trees have been planted across 20 states of India, generating approximately 370,000 workdays of employment for the rural communities
They have aided in generating alternative sources of income by inculcating rural employment during the plantation process and by providing non-timber forest produce that can be utilised for both consumption and sales. “Even when my sons have left us, these trees will stay with me, forever, to take care of me and my wife in our old age”, shares one of the members involved in the plantation.
Through their projects, Grow-Trees have succeeded in providing water to the deserted villages of Rajasthan and Gujarat. For instance, in the region of our plantation site near Sariska Tiger Reserve, the water table has come to 40ft as opposed to 400 ft, the latter being the depth at the time of initiating the plantation project. Over 400,000 trees have been planted in the region in the last 4 years, benefitting not only the rural communities, but also improving the tiger habitats.
Affecting lakhs of lives positively, Grow-Trees has always ensured to generate maximum impact through its projects. By initiating large scale tree plantation initiatives in the unimaginable parts of the country, it has reached out to those who have often been ignored widely. They are also exploring ways to increase incomes for rural communities from allied activities.
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