World Environment Day Celebrations

Isha Foundation’s environmental initiative, Project GreenHands (PGH), launched the planting season for this year on June 5th – World Environment Day. Educational programs, awareness rallies by school students, sapling distribution to general public, and tree planting events were organized in 27 locations in 14 districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. On this day, 8,479 saplings were distributed with the involvement of 2,300 school children and over 3,000 people, including farmers, general public, district officials and corporate institutions.

In 2016-17, Project GreenHands aims to enable the planting of 4 million saplings through its 3 models. These 3 models are:

Trees for All

PGH has 40 nurseries established across Tamil Nadu in which nearly 65 different varieties of saplings (timber, fruit and fodder species) are grown and handed out to people who commit to plant and nurture them as they grow into trees. PGH encourages volunteers, school children, and corporate employees to volunteer for a day in their local nursery and offer their support.

PGH encouraged people to gift saplings during weddings. This idea caught on, and in 2015 more than 1.2 million saplings were distributed in more than 1,600 weddings across the state.

PGH introduced the concept of Pasumai Thamboolam (Pasumai – Green; Thamboolam – customary gift bag) in the year 2011. In South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, a typical traditional wedding includes offering guests a thamboolam bag, containing a coconut, 2 betel leaves and nuts. In its place, PGH encouraged people to gift saplings during weddings. This idea caught on, and in 2015 more than 1.2 million saplings were distributed in more than 1,600 weddings across the state.

This model is supported by Yves Rocher Foundation, France – PGH’s biggest partner since 2007. To commemorate the tenth year of this partnership, Yves Rocher is supporting the growing of 3.3 million saplings this year.
Trees for Life

Under this agroforestry model, farmers are educated on a sustainable land use system that maintains and increases total yields by combining food crops with tree crops on the same unit of land. Farmers are also encouraged to plant trees (a combination of fruit, timber and fodder trees) on the farmland. This initiative promotes the planting of ecologically and economically beneficial tree saplings in farmlands, thereby offsetting or increasing farmers’ income. The tree yield reduces expenditures and offers the possibility of future income through small-scale forest enterprises.

Corporate companies like SONY India and DP World are supporting this model.

Green School Movement

This project aims to create “green consciousness” in the younger generation. Children are involved in every aspect of the project, from sowing the seeds to caring for the growing trees.

In 2016, more than 6,500 school children from 130 schools will be trained to produce 260,000 saplings through school nurseries. Action-oriented awareness-generating programs for eco-club students from 40 champion schools will also be conducted throughout the year. Pharmazell from Chennai is the sponsor for this year’s project.

Editor’s Note: Want to support Project GreenHands plant 4 million trees? Log on to www.giveisha.org/pgh.