Bangalore or Bengaluru was once known as the Garden City, with magnificent green covers splendid for a rising cosmopolitan city. The rising boom of industrial and urban spaces cut that short and has today made Bangalore a concrete jungle. This is one of many examples of the global truth where the lungs of the earth are on fire, and there is not enough being done about it.
These very thoughts echoed in Janet Yegneshwaran’s mind when a personal loss encouraged her to sow the seed for a deep-rooted passion. After her late husband’s passing in 2003, Janet found herself engaging with neighbours and friends to plant saplings in a growing urban chokehold. The need to expand native green cover and the need to sequester maximum amounts of carbon at the shortest time possible founded Reforest India. The organisation relies heavily on reforestation to contribute to global cooling.
The choking of the city by cement and conglomerates has left Bengaluru short of breathable air or space. The fear of having to sweep off dry leaves every day or the fear of bird poop on the car are modern urban reasons that deter people from fully engaging in tree planting. This has directed the organisation towards Resident Welfare Associations that guide them to areas where the sapling is ensured care and nourishment. The not-for-profit has successfully planted 80,000 saplings native to Bengaluru and neighbouring rural districts and towns till date.
Reforest India does not believe in planting without knowledge or awareness and follow a structured system that includes identification, outreach and planting. The seeds of change are open to students, elders and businesses. Corporates often send volunteers and fund the cause through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. Volunteers are a vital part of the process in identification and planting, especially in rural pockets.
Reforest India has in the last year helped plant fruit saplings in tribal and rural pockets of Bengaluru This proved to be a boon for farmers with large expanses of fallow land that Reforest India has successfully helped them convert to fruit orchards. These men and women are today proud parents of several fruit orchards that generate their income and their dedication to mother earth.
A recent event in a rural village of Bengaluru in Karnataka witnessed 70 tribal families receive two coconut saplings each. Meanwhile in an urban locality, a young boy’s birthday birthed six trees amid the dust and noise of Bengaluru.
Reforest India: The cause heavily relies on dual participation by volunteers and identified caretakers who will share their land, resources and time to first identify space, and then reforest that area. During times like covid-19, many regular participants and willing companies are understandably weary of physically engaging in the same. They encourage tree plantation drives among the masses and select different locations, their latest one being at a Geriatric Centre for ailing, ageing stray dogs who now enjoy themselves under the shade of nature’s bounty.
Reforest India is on a mission that is slowly but effectively branching out, especially in rural and urban pockets. As Janet believes, one can plant a tree instead of bursting crackers. The journey has been long and arduous, one that their beloved Bolero Gold has played a huge role in for a decade that now unfortunately seems to have emptied its engines. As Covid-19 turns lives and mindsets, Reforest India hopes to continue their journey planting seeds of love, one sapling at a time.