Saturday, 9 July 2016

Promoting a Tree Plantation Drive

"Trees are poems that Earth writes upon the sky.We fell them and turn them into newspapers that we may record our emptiness." -Kahlil Gibran
We need to plant trees to preserve ecology and environment , to prevent climate change and global warming,to preserve and sustain life on earth."The symbolism "--and substantive significance  of planting a tree has universal power in every culture and every  society on Earth  and it is a way for individual men , women and children to participate in creating solutions  for the environmental crisis" -- Al Gore, 2007 Nobel Prize Winner. " A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know  they shall never sit in"-Greek Proverb.
   Though there is some awareness among people to plant trees voluntarily, it is necssary to accelrate the pace of planting trees to avert the impending crisis of global warming  and climate change.This can be done successfully by organising  periodic tree plantation drives.
        In empowering the public , a drive also empowers the governments by providing proof that  addressing climate change is not a political risk.Far from it , it is perhaps the most popular move  of our time , with electorates  right behind leaders who take significant action  on a transition to low carbon socielty.Plantation drive responds to a need  and common yearning to solve the environmental crisis and to be a part of the solution .We just don't get our hands dirty  but it gladdens our hearts  and connects us to other eco -citizens around the world.
       We in the Forest departmrnt of Uttar Pradeh organised a very unique Tree Plantation drive  in 2007 to plant  10 million saplings on a single day(31 July 2007) as apart of a bigger world-wide drive organised by UNEP and called "Plant for the Planet.The Billion Tree campaign".United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) published a book in 2008  with the title "Plant for the Planet.The Billion Tree Campaign.An Album"(ISBNN:978- 92-807-2896-5).
                 Many features of Uttar Pradesh campaign  of July 31, 2007 should be followed by any one  who wishes to organise such a drive.It is important that all governments in states of India  organise one massive plantation drive  during the Monsoons.But to do large-scale plantation  during Monsoons it is important to do  the advance planning and other ground work.
      UNEP described in the above quoted  quoted booklet this achievement as a world record  set by India , and  Guinness World Records  Ltd  also  recorded it  as a world record in the form of  a certificate as below:                         Guinness World Records
                                                              Certificate
"The most trees  planted in one day is 10,000,000 in an event organised by  the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department  across the State of Uttar Pradesh on  31 July 2007."
                                                                    . . . . . . . . . . . . ..Guinness World Records Ltd.
The UNEP booklet says the following:
"Billion Tree Campaign
World record set by India in July, 2007".
Mr. Achim Steiner , Executive Director of UNEP and Under Secretary General , United Nations wrote:"The precise number of  people mobilised  awaits  compilation.It is worthy to note ,however that 6,00,000 people including school children  in Uttar Pradesh , India  planted 10.5 million trees  in a single day of July 2007."
 It may be mentioned that the UNEP  acknowledged that a number of regional and national governments  organised the most massive plantings.India found mention in the top plnating countries.India , Japan , the Bolivian Republic of Venezuela  were reported to have planted 11 million  saplings each .It is a matter of pride that  out of 11 million trees planted by India  in Billion Tree campaign  , 10.5 million trees were planted  only by Uttar Pradesh on July31 , 2007. A part of credit goes to  personalities like Al Gore , Prof Wangari Maathai  of Kenya (the Nobel Peace Laureate)."When we plant trees , we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope." -Prof . Wangari Maathai.
   The greenest day of calendar in India  and a tree planting record  by 6,00,000 volunteers. 10.5 million trees planted by Uttar Pradesh in a single day.The Forest Department of Government of Uttar Pradesh , the most populous state of India  succeded in planting 10.5 million trees in a single day on 31 July , 2007.This ambitious project in which 6,00,000 people participated , was meant to raise  the awareness of  the residents of the State towards the importance of tree-planting  and the vital role of trees in correcting ecological imbalances , removing the environmental pollution  and increasing tree cover.The decision to launch this unique operation  was taken at the government level.
               The saplings were planted by school children , the local population , farmers , industrial units, government departments and the forest department .The object of the exercise was to make  tree plantation a people's participatory activity with people from a vast cross-section of  society participating in the planting  os saplings at 9320 sites  across the seventy districts of the State.Of these 43.72% were farmers ,38.01% were educational institutions' sites , 9.14% forest department's sites,6.33% other government departments' sites and the remaining sites were of other institutions.The planting activity on all sites were  photographed and authenticated.For this , 18,640  independent authenticators were mobilised.
                  The pits for planting were dug in advance  and the plants to be planted  were transportted to the sites  in order to be planted in one go on 31 July 2007 . The entire activity was carefully sequenced  and detailed guidelines were prepared in the form of a booklet  and widely circulated.The whole effort of planting over ten million saplings  on one day was co-ordinated centrally  from the State capital at Lucknow.Detailed plans were prepared  which included the details of the sites  along with GPS based locations , the species of saplings to be planted , the source of saplings  as well as the name of   site co-ordinators , photogrphers and videographers.
              In India , 31 July 2007 was an auspicious day  as it represented the first day  of Shrawan , according to the Hindu  calendar. The exercise gave a boost to  the Billion Tree Campaign . Organisers  also recalled that  the theme of World Environment Day 2007 was "Melting Ice-A Hot Topic" and the Forest Department of Uttar Pradesh  helped the issues  of  global warming , expansion of tree cover  and carbon sequestration.
 There was large scale  participation by many citizens  and institutions by way of  contributions in kind  for meeting the cost of plants , their transportation , payment of photographers , etc.In many places , the officers /staff of  the forest department  had voluntarily donated  salary os a day for this purpose.
 The essentials of any tree plantation drive  are as below:
(1). Role of Forest Department
(a).As co-ordinator.
(b).As supplier of saplings.
(c).Technical know how in  choice of species , planting and post-planting  care.
(2). Mobilse the local communities  to participate in the campaign .Category of participants could be :
(a) Private individuals.
(b)civil society and NGOs.
(c).Local and national government.1) Forest Department .2)Other Government Departments.
(d) Farmers.
(e)Private companies
(f) Community groups.
(g).Schools and other educational institutions.
(h).Children and youth.
(i)Media.
(j). Others.
(3).A few leading  media houses  be made partner  so that through media  campaign , others can be motivated  to join.Media includes newspapers , TV channels , FM channels and magazines.
(4).Point out plant species  most fit for area.Right trees for the right place -- so that such trees  transform both lives  and landscapes.Plant local species  to restore the area's original biodiversity.
(5).Sapling distribution at new outlets.
(6) Publicity for new outlets  for making saplings available.
(7).Giving the gift of saplings.
(8).Arrangement for funds  through government and company funds  under Corporate Social Responsibility.
(9).Bucket farming for those who live in flats.
(10).SMSs be sent enblock through bulk SMS providers.
(11).Utilizing the lessons learnt from the previous campaigns.
(12)Involving celebrities to promote  campaign and to plant one  sapling.Superstars  from the world of fashion , music and media  should also plant saplings.
(13) Plantation  drive as an activity for environment education .
(14)NGOs may have the following  role to play:
(a).To co-ordinate with Residents' Welfare Associations  and Market Associations.
(b).To co-ordinate with Eco clubs in schools and colleges for massive plantation.
(c).To train people ,particularly children to plant trees properly.
(d).To identify a nodal plan in each association /school  to work with.
(e).To assess the number of saplings required as also the species which will be required.
(f).The NGOs can be advised to identify and adopt old/heritage trees growing in and around the  cities.For this , they will take the help of financial institutions  and co-operative sector.
(15).In urban areas , Residents' Welfare Associations may   perform   the following roles:
(a).Informing the residents of the tree plantation drive.
(b).Collecting saplings from Forest nurseries.
(c).Gathering volunteers for planting .
(d).Identifying places for planting.
(e).Co-ordinating with NGOs and governmental agencies  and chalking out programme for plantation  in their respective colonies.
(f).Ensuring proper protection  and regular watering of plants.
(16).Role of Municipal Corporations , Housing Boards and Development Authorities in providing sites for plantation in parks , green belts and round abouts..
(17).Role of Horticulture Department:Providing saplings from horticultural nurseries  and giving technical know how.
(18).Role of Rural Development Department  in motivating village panchayats  and other rural local bodies.
(19).Role of banks and other financial institutions  in sponsoring tree guards and other fencing materials.
 (20).Last but not the least .Tree Plantation Drive must pledge  to involve every resident of the State  as a part of his or her fundamental constitutional duty.
The above is not an exhaustive list , but if followed in spirit,it will result in a highly successful tree Plantation Drive.
(This article was published in June 15,2016 issue of the magazine Tree Take, Lucknow, UP, India.)