• Rural Preventures Charitable Trust To become a catalyst for improving quality of rural life & provide/arrange the resources too.
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  • Outreach - The Village Health Centre Scout for localised skills that come with commitment: Two Social Workers with over 20 years of contact with local Villages have been identified & brought on-board
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    By shopping or eating here our customers are helping to provide a free meal a day to 19 men & women in extreme poverty. »
My Tree Book

INTACH’s…. My Tree Book   project

Planting of trees has been a popular activity with many organizations. The student members of INTACH’s Heritage clubs have been busy the last few months doing the same ……but with a difference! In this instance, a student ‘adopts’ a sapling which she/he wants to ‘bring up’. Just as parents record a baby’s growth and milestones in a ‘My Baby Book’, so also the ‘student-parent’ records the sapling’s growth in a ‘My Tree Book’.

The first few pages advise the student regarding her/his parental role. For the first month, the student records the growth parameters every week; the frequency then changes to two weeks followed by a monthly observation. The ‘My Tree Book’ has a provision to record observations for 18 months & also has a Tamil version. The student-parent is encouraged to enlarge the scope to his baby-tree’s environment – to study & record the butterfly that visits the sapling, the birds that come-by, save the 1st leaf that drops, changes that occur with weather/seasons etc. 

To date, over 200 saplings have been planted by children in areas around their schools or around their homes. The schools that have participated so far are Bhavan’s Gandhi Vidyashram, St. Xavier’s Naidupuram, My School Satya Surabhi, St. Thomas, PUM School Vadakavunji, St. Theresa’s, KCS, KIS, Government school Poombarai and Sri Sankara Vidyalaya. At the end of 18 months, each ‘My Tree Book’ will be perused/examined to see which children have had the best interaction with their plant and prizes awarded accordingly.

Before the children take responsibility for their saplings, the ‘Ligustrum Perottetii’, they are advised on how to do so. Mr A Jeyakumar from the Vattakanal Conservation Trust talks to the children about the particular sapling and about the sholas and grasslands of the Palani Hills. His soft voice is like a magnet to which the children are drawn & they listen with rapt attention to his every word! The following is a brief synopsis.

The natural vegetation of Kodaikanal is forests & grasslands. The forests or sholas, as they are known locally, grew thick and dark in the ravines (valleys) and were home to many species of birds, flora and fauna; including the bison which now roam Kodai at large, as their habitat has been ‘taken over’ by human beings! During the day, the animals sheltered in these forests and at night went to graze on the grasses that grew on the tops of the mountains. The grasses were therefore as integral a part of the ecology as the sholas. There were apparently over three hundred species of grasses on the Palani Hills. (By the way, the grasses we are talking about are NOT the green variety which grows in our homes).

Like everything in Nature, the sholas too have a very strategic role to play. Water flows through the valleys; the shola trees act as natural sponges which absorb the water during the rainy season and then release the water slowly during the lean period (the same thing a marsh does). By this we are ensured of having a continuous supply of water throughout the year in the dams to which the waters flow. The streams which flow through the sholas feed about a dozen dams in Tamilnadu.*.

The grasslands, for the most part, have been destroyed. There are just a few areas where they still survive (for the time being) like Kookal. Since it was just ‘grass’, people ignored their importance. It was first the British who planted exotic trees  such as the Eucalyptus- brought from Australia- Wattle, Acacia and Pine in the grasslands**. But even our own Government started this practise about three decades ago.

We hope INTACH’s initiative in preparing the ‘next generation’ of citizens will not be in vain and that all the work that has gone into it will gather momentum and try to restore Kodai’s ecology. The saplings are from  the Vattakanal Conservation Trust where Tanya, Bob, Jeyakumar and others like them are doing wonderful work in this field, and from Pippa’s garden. ‘My Tree Book’ is designed and written by Ms.Pippa Mukherjee and conceptualized by Anil Choudhry.

*Half the state is dependent on the waters from the streams of the Palani Hills and yet the Government ignores the state of the depleting sholas and also allows the construction of hotels and houses right next to the streams. These hotels and houses take the easy way out and let their sewage into these very streams that are the water source for the people of the plains!?

**The wood from these trees are put to commercial use. The lure of money started monoculture planting of these trees on every available space of grassland including the majestic ‘Perumal Malai’ which has since lost most of its grandeur.

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