April 16, 2024

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Planting Trees for Ecological Justice!

Biren Nayak, ActionAid Association

The act of planting a tree, is amongst the most generous gifts we could make to our children. It is an ecological resource that will serve future generations in a myriad of ways. Poets and literary people would speak about the comfort of sitting in its shade. Economists would speak about the value of its produce fruit, timber and other possible products. Ecological scientists speak about the close link between trees and water, about how trees and forests can increase the availability of water, which in turn ensures that a landscape can support more trees and forests.

Scientists caution that in some cases increased forest cover can led to and increase local water scarcity, but this is more in the case of dense commercial tree plantations, the overall impact of natural vegetation is overwhelmingly positive. 

ActionAid Association has been running many tree plantation programmes with vulnerable communities across India, especially with the youth, with the objective of encouraging people to take custodianship of ecological resources.  Planting a tree, taking care of it in its initial years brings communities, which has wider impact in the way they look to a variety of ecological resources they have links to.

The plan is to plant indigenous variety of trees on river beds, common lands, degraded forests, and institutional campuses. ActionAid Association strives to volunteers, especially women and girls to participate in plantation programme while celebrating significant days including ‘World Water Day’ and ‘World Environment Day’ and other significant days. In addition to tree plantation, volunteers prepare seed pellets seed pellets which are planted before monsoon for germination.  Last year volunteers planted more than 150 trees on the river bed in Nichlaul block of Maharajganj district in Uttar Pradesh. Students planted around 100 trees in their school campus. In Uttarakhand volunteers planted trees to mitigate soil erosion. In Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh our volunteers have planted 100 trees to enhance water retention in the area. In Rayagada district of Odisha, volunteers from the Adivasi Janjati Adhikar Manch (AJAM), participated in tree plantation.

Preparation of seed pellets and plantation of trees are regular activities taken up every year.  In 2021 thousands of seed balls have been prepared and planted in different areas, along with hundreds of trees.

These efforts supplement the work of restoring water bodies in urban and peri-urban being undertaken in Bengaluru, Karnataka and NOIDA, in Delhi NCR. In rural areas restoration of water bodies in underway in a major way in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and in Jharkhand.

Overall our efforts are to promote the role of vulnerable communities as custodians of ecological resources, to ensure that they are mobilized to create ecological justice for themselves and for the whole planet.

(Views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the organisation.)