Even before India announced its emission-neutrality aim at the CoP-26 summit held in Glasgow, the country at different points in history, has witnessed citizen-led environmental movements like Chipko and government led initiatives. Grow-Trees.com is however a one-of-a-kind social organisation that builds synergies between corporate entities, individuals, forest departments and local communities to undertake massive afforestation. This year it has reached a remarkable milestone by achieving the goal of planting 10 million trees across India. Founded in 2010, Grow-Trees.com is now counted among the largest non-governmental organisations in the world and has generated over 7,53,000 (and counting) employment days, helped conserve wildlife corridors and worked tirelessly for forest restoration.
Kanha-Pench Corridor, Maharashtra, India
With the help of a web-enabled, cost-effective method that can be used by individuals and companies to donate, plant and gift trees, the social enterprise has done its bit to not just spread awareness about climate change but also enabled climate action. Bikrant Tiwary, CEO Grow-Trees.com says, “Right from the onset, our plan was to follow intention with action and once we identified a zone that needed green cover urgently, we created a blueprint in keeping with specifics of topography, indegenous plant species, the needs of local communities, the challenges being faced by wildlife and then proceeded systematically with afforestation projects in over 23 states. Till now we have covered more than 4,500 hectares of land in India.”
Bikrant Tiwary, CEO Grow-Trees
The projects are named after the causes they support and these include Trees for Forests and Wildlife, Trees for Himalayan Biodiversity, Trees for Rivers, Trees for Tigers, Trees for Tribal Communities, Trees for Coastal Ecosystems, Trees for Urban Landscape, Trees for Memories, Trees for Wellness and more.
Bikrant adds, “Our goal has never been to randomly plant trees. For instance, our project at Sariska Tiger Reserve required us to reforest zones where poaching and disruptive human activities had impacted the tiger population. We ended up planting over 4,00,000 trees around the reserve to expand the natural habitat and soon enough tigers identified as ST6 and T10 were spotted in the project area. What is more, we saw an increase in the peacock and deer population. So what we do is not about just numbers but results. For instance, every single project we have undertaken has helped revive water bodies and improve groundwater levels.”
What is more, each project has provided livelihood opportunities to tribal and rural communities and improved local biodiversity for them to benefit from. Adequate forestation encompassing millions of trees along wildlife corridors also helps prevent human and animal confrontations as was the case at Singhbhum Elephant Reserve in Jharkhand and Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal. The plantation of over 25,000 tree saplings around the corridor of Dachigam National Park is helping preserve the Hangul or the Kashmiri red deer.
Trees in polluted urban centres and even in spiritually significant spaces like Bodhgaya, Bihar are creating welcome lung spaces for city dwellers. Eco-Sensitive zones like Pakyong, East Sikkim are also benefiting from afforestation drives. Another major project is Trees for Ganga to counter water depletion in the Gangetic region. As Bikrant says, a tree is the simplest answer to the many problems created by heedless developmental activities and climate change. The 10 million trees planted by Grow-Trees.com have done their bit to enhance the overall ecological health of many regions, minimized the risk of floods, helped in soil conservation, renewed water tables, and created carbon sinks in polluted environs. As more citizens and companies join Grow-Trees.com in its mission, this may just be the beginning of a nationwide green revolution.