A social organisation patronised by some leading industry names has generated 7,000 workdays for tribal societies and planted 85,000 local mixed saplings in Tamil Nadu while working with Irula tribal settlements.
Banking on the tribal and indigenous cultures’ knowledge that have played a critical role in conserving biodiversity and natural habitats, the saplings have been planted across 150 villages with about 5,200 Irula households from Viluppuram, Tiruvannamalai, Chengalpet, Kancheepuram, and Thiruvallur districts by the Grow-Trees.org.
Grow-Trees.org has said this initiative creates an additional source of income for many tribal families while also bringing multi-faceted ecological advantages to their environments like enhanced carbon sequestration potential, improved greenery and wildlife habitats, increased food, fuel, fruits and flowers, and improved groundwater levels.
Forests are intrinsic to human subsistence for most indigenous populations who conserve ecosystems and consume sources of food like roots, tubers, seeds, fruits, and agricultural, medicinal, and horticultural plants as a way of life. However rapid industrialisation, mining, and deforestation have not only compromised India’s biodiversity but also the habitats and livelihoods of tribal communities, it noted.
“When the integrity of habitats is compromised, its dependents, be they animals or humans, suffer too. This is what is happening in once verdant zones that have undergone severe deforestation due to multiple reasons,” Grow-Trees.com CEO, Bikrant Tiwary, said.
Grow-Tree.com is affiliated with the United Nation’s Environment Program’s (UNEP) Billion Tree Campaign and WWF’s ‘Cities for Forests Campaign’ has acknowledged it as an official partner.
“We cannot undermine the role indigenous people have played in conservation activities. That is why whenever we undertake tree plantation exercises, we invite local communities to participate in the conservation of eco-diversity, sustainable management of vegetation, and identification of indigenous plants and their ethnobotanical uses.”
Irulas inhabit the forest areas along the Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka border. Over 1,89,621 of them live in Tamil Nadu and the plantation project has engaged these communities in implementing afforestation activities, which in turn, has created job opportunities for them.
“Upon maturity, these saplings are expected to absorb 200,000 kg of atmospheric carbon every year,” a release said.