What would be the perfect gift for a friend who has always been by your side, or a loved one you never can do without? Well, expensive gift options are aplenty. But, what would be that one gift that truly conveys your feelings, without a glittery and proud price tag, one might wonder.
“We offer people to plant a tree in the name of their dear ones, at a nominal expense of just Rs 85. A consequent eTree Certificate would be delivered digitally to the recipient,” shares Bikrant Tiwary, the CEO of Grow-Trees.com.
No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank
The decade-old organisation has helped plant more than 3.9 million trees in hinterlands of India, often inhabited by tribal communities, thereby reducing carbon emissions each year by a massive 78,252,500 kg. Alongside, the plantations have been saving endangered wildlife by restoring their habitats as well as providing forest-based resources to the tribal and local residents.
Why Grow-Trees stands out
In a conversation with Efforts For Good, Bikrant shares the principles, policies and achievements that set Grow-Trees a step ahead in the environmental non-profit sector. “Quite a lot of NGOs all over the work are doing tree plantation programmes. But in most cases, the expected change is not visible due to lack of consistency and determination. They plant trees after financial contribution from well-wishers. But Grow-Trees will plant around a million trees this monsoon, irrespective of whether people donate or not,” Bikrant asserts.
This is where Grow-Trees stand out since their initiative is driven by the goodwill and personal feelings of individuals. “We always plant trees in public lands. The work of the plantation programmes is spearheaded by tribal and local communities – people, mostly women, whose lives are intertwined with forests. At the same time, in a particular plantation zone, we grow only local species of trees,” he informs.
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The organization which now has its presence in 14 Indian states was started in 2010 by Karan Shah and his father Pradip Shah, the founder of the first credit-rating agency CRISIL. The idea sprouted in his mind thanks to a gesture of gratitude by Israel. In 1992, Shah had provided his insights and guidance in establishing a credit rating agency in Israel, who honoured him by planting 100 trees in his name.
“We want to inculcate the habit amongst individuals and companies to Greet with Trees – plant a real tree in public lands and dedicate it to greet employees/customers/friends with an attractive eTree Certificate. We have different thematic projects – Trees for Tribals, Trees for Elephants. These trees not only enable one to distinctively greet a friend but also help create incomes for rural residents, improve wildlife habitats, enhance water catchment, and fight climate change,” says Shah.
The project was officially launched on June 5, 2010, on the occasion of World Environment Day.
Empowering the tribals
Bikrant explains, “The saplings are developed from seeds and the months preceding the plantation season are spent on nurturing them in nurseries. The local communities participate in the work since they know they will benefit in terms of food, timber and other resources. Over 3,22,770 workdays of employment have been created for these local people in places where jobs are scarce.”
As for the planters, aside from individuals, more than 500 corporate firms are our regular clients, who honour their employees or customers by planting trees in their names.
“Before the start of any of our projects, we identify the regions needing afforestation and pre-evaluate the socio-environmental impact of the same. So far, all of our projects have yielded positive results in preserving the environment as well as uplifting the marginalized communities,” informs Bikrant.
Trees for wildlife
“We have started the project Trees For Tigers at Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan and Sunderbans in West Bengal. Over the last six years, we have planted almost 3,00,000 trees at Sariska, where officials now confirm two new tigers being spotted in that area. Earlier deforestation robbed them of their habitats, but our programme is restoring the home of the tigers,” Bikrant narrates about one of their many projects dedicated to wildlife rehabilitation.
Their wildlife-centric projects also comprise Trees For Sloth Bears and Trees For Indian Giant Flying Squirrels in Rajasthan, both of which are enlisted as endangered species.
“We plant trees surrounding the buffer zones of forests so that the forest-dependent communities do not need to venture deep into the jungle, causing human-animal conflict,” clarifies Bikrant.
Conserving water and purifying the air
The environmental impact of Grow-Trees plantation projects is not restricted to reducing the carbon footprint or preserving wildlife habitats. “In Sariska, we have seen a rise in the groundwater table. Similar results have been observed in other plantation zones as well. In Madhya Pradesh, we have planted forests on the banks of the tributaries of the Narmada river, aiming to increase water percolation, reduce flooding by decreasing soil erosion and enhancing the soil retention capacity,” he shares.
To address the notorious air pollution issues in the capital city of Delhi, Grow-Trees is preparing for their Trees For Life project.
Efforts For Good take
Afforestation initiatives are reported across the country every now and then. However, a large percentage of those fail in the end, due to the absence of proper maintenance and nonchalance of the involved entities. In this context, Grow-Trees is perhaps the oldest and most committed plantation programme in India, not to mention the least expensive. With the engagement of stakeholders at all levels, Grow-Trees continue to ensure that the positive socio-environmental impact stays the utmost.
On the occasion of Earth Day on April 22, Grow-Trees is urging everyone to plant a tree for their dear ones, helping to save our mother planet in turn. You can also participate in the campaign by simply clicking on this link: https://www.grow-trees.com/earthday/
With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.
After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.
Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.
Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.
“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.
Direct Monetary and Material Transfer
Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.
Information till 10th April 2020:
Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
Reached 17,700 families
Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.
In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.
This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.