Known for its green landscapes stretching across flatlands and mountainous terrains, living in tangent with nature is a way of life that has been practised in Kerala generation after generation.
Despite having an enviable green cover, the lesser known fact is that cash crop estates and plantations now have a larger stake in the previously untouched stretches of forests and wilderness.
In a bid to expand the forest covers with native species that are losing out to cash crops, Kerala’s Forest Department plans on distributing three crore saplings among citizens across the state.
The department had undertaken the same initiative under Kerala’s ambitious Haritha Keralam Mission last year with one crore plants and is all geared to take its flagship afforestation drive a notch higher this year.
Nurseries under Thiruvananthapuram Social Forestry Division have been delegated the responsibility of cultivating 80 lakh seedlings, out of which the ones across Thiruvananthapuram, Attingal and Neyyattinkara ranges are nurturing over five lakh plants.
The saplings include native species like neem, pomegranate, jackfruit, custard apple, rambutan, Indian blackberry (jamun or njaval), mahogany, bamboo, teak and sacred grove varieties including Bilva (koovalam), Hopea parviflora (kambakam), and Cassia fistula (kanikkonna), J R Ani, Assistant Conservator of Forests (Social Forestry), Thiruvananthapuram, told The Hindu.
Interestingly, the drive will also partake in the distribution of 75,000 seedlings of the humble curry tree amidst the residents in Kerala’s capital city.
The project is being supported by the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change and will reach its culmination before June 5, observed across the globe as World Environment Day.
Educational institutions, government offices, local self-government institutions and other organisations across the state are the beneficiaries, receiving the seedlings nurtured by the forest department. It is believed that the department has been following up on the growth and condition of the plants that were distributed during last year’s afforestation drive.
Impressed by the dedication and success of Kerala’s social forestry wing, Ani shared that many eminent organisations have come forward to place bulk orders of diverse varieties of seedlings. These include the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) and Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC).
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)