Urbanisation is a growing menace in India, and the Indian Ministry of Environment and Sciences (MoESC) has been under increasing flack for its poor deputation as protector of the environment. While there is a larger awareness for those we share our earth with, people forget the cost of the new neighbourhood mall or the swanky five-star hotel. The unseen expense of building these places is innocent blood.
Bangalore was once known as the garden city of India, but summers now turn hotter every year and people and animals scavenge for shade and water. Trees take decades to grow but are felled thoughtlessly in one day, and it was this shocking realisation coupled with the need for awareness that founded Say Trees. Founded by Kapil Sharma, Say Trees plants sapling and supports them to become rural and urban forests, also helping farmers and spreading mass-awareness.
When Kapil Sharma came to Bangalore from Chattisgarh he was awed by the cool temperatures, and that one did not really need a fan given the spread of Greenery. Dismay hit him when he soon saw that the trees were disappearing to make way for a growing Bangalore’s urban hunger. It was then that he knew it was his chance to work on creating a ripple of change, or to hold his silence forever. Several visitations to government offices proved futile and he decided to change track. Soon Kapil was inviting artists, musicians, photographers and the general public to help him seed his dream of a green Bangalore.
Kapil planted his first sapling in 2007 and by 2009, over a 100-saplings were planted but he realised this was a minimal number to the overall devastation deforestation caused. It was then that he changed his approach and used the magic of the masses by spreading the word to different communities. Say Trees believes the saplings must be planted in locations where they are bound to grow and identified schools, parks, hospitals and rivers where urbanisation cannot sink its cement claws. What started as tedious but regular visits to government offices by one man is today a mass movement that is empowering the earth, one sapling at a time.
The movement has grown on Kapil’s individual dream to breathe green to Bangalore and India, today interwoven with thousands of others who dream the same. Corporates were asked to use the CSR funds, and quarterly team outings to Say Trees instead (to plant trees instead).
Say Trees: The first step is to identify a location where the sapling is guaranteed protection, like rivers, hospitals, schools, etc. Then Say Trees works to get written permission before preparing the land for plantation. Say Trees only plants native species which are already defined in Indian states. Several of these trees like he Banyan or Peepul are found everywhere but others are limited to that topographical region.
They spend from December till May looking for ideal locations, because saplings cannot be planted due to climatic conditions. They have been doing research to plant for Miyawaki forests. A reputed organisation is helping Say Trees to research Miyawaki Forests to emerge with educated conclusions to long-lasting solutions.
Social media has been a boon and people are more active and responsive and stay more informed than when the company started thanks to digital prowess in this regard. The people who have planted saplings are asked to come watch so that they can also maintain it. This becomes a cycle that repeats itself and furthers the movement.
Say Trees has today helped over 800 Farmers plant fruit trees, and created 61 forests pan India. Kapil’s dream of a citizen movement is not limited to forests alone and he has now ventured into river rejuvenation and waste management, all of which are linked to the earth’s health. Say Trees has paved the way in restoring shade and is a boon to the earth, for the people, by the people.