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Almost 30 years ago, in Israel, Mr Pradip Shah received a unique gift—a garden with 100 trees, planted in his name as a token of appreciation for the knowhow he provided to their rating agency.
Deeply Impacted by the gesture, the environment enthusiast devised an idea to Greet with Trees® and make planting trees an effortless yet effective deed.
On World Environment Day, 2010, along with his son Karan, Mr Shah founded Grow-Trees, which allows individuals and corporates to plant trees at the convenience of a few clicks and dedicate eTreeCertificates® to greet their loved ones on special occasions or commemorate their loved ones’ memorials.
These eTreeCertificates® are similar to e-greetings and can be personalised and customised based on the occasion and can be sent to individuals or groups of people.
For a country which is fighting to rise to the target of 33% of green cover by 2030, from an existing total forest and tree cover of 80.3 million hectares, (or roughly 24.5% of its geographical area according to the India State of Forest Report 2019), Grow-Trees initiatives have been a welcome boon.
“Our objective has always been to create a wholesome impact, building a sustainable ecosystem for all living beings. We envision expanding our horizons across the globe and create an even larger impact by planting trees for the lesser haves, generating rural employment and rehabilitating wildlife habitats,” shares Mr Shah.
But why trees? Supriya Patil, the head of partnerships and projects and an environmentalist, explains that the act of planting a tree goes beyond just the action.
“Tree plantation not only brings the conspicuous environmental benefits like reduction in the soil erosion, enhancement of groundwater table, conservation of the habitat of the endemic wildlife but also creates employment opportunities for the villagers and benefits the communities in the long term in the form of Non-Timber Forest Produce. Our tree plantation initiatives will not only play an important role in conserving the environment but will also help in uplifting the lifestyle of rural communities.”
From raising saplings in the nurseries, pit digging, planting, watering to overall maintenance, all the on-ground planting activities are being carried out by individuals from rural tribal communities. In several regions, Grow-Trees has also prioritised employing rural women to enable and empower them.
Through its efforts for the past 9 years, Grow-Trees has planted more than 5 million trees in projects like Trees for Tigers and Trees for Tribals, while generating approximately 400,000+ days of employment.
Additionally, these trees are expected to absorb more than one hundred million Kgs of CO2 every year.
“We have not just generated rural employment but have also secured wildlife habitats for the endangered species like tigers, elephants, sun bears, etc. in the peripheries of wildlife sanctuaries (Sariska Tiger Reserve, Dalma Elephant Reserve, Kanha National Park, Pench Tiger Reserve), as well as recharged groundwater in several rural regions. For instance, in parts of Alwar district of Rajasthan, the groundwater has risen from 400 ft to 60 ft in the last four years,” adds Supriya.
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Having recognised by several international organisations for their ground-work and impact generated, CEO Bikrant Tiwary adds how their future plans are aligned with the expansion of this model across the country and beyond.
“We are the implementing partners of Germany based organisation for plantation of 1 million trees in Jharkhand-Odisha wildlife corridor in the upcoming monsoon. And we have received support from over 600 corporates and over 25,000 individuals, planting trees and greeting people with our eTreeCertificates® across the world. Soon, we hope to restore green covers in Thailand and Kenya as well,” he says.
At a minimum cost of Rs 50 per tree, for a subscription for minimum 1 year and Rs 85 per tree, for a one-time purchase, you can have the power to restore and transform your planet, thanks to Grow-Trees.
A wholesome procedure that benefits all, this is precisely what we need for a substantial social and environmental change in the future.