Enhancing green cover – The journey of Sankalp Taru

 Innovatively integrating technology with nature, SankalpTaru enables people, with no time or space to plant trees, contribute their share towards the environment. The initiative is efficiently connecting individuals with nature and also helping rural communities in strengthening their livelihoods.

This farmer in Maharashtra is earning better income by growing custard apple and guava trees on his farm

With an objective to reduce the carbon footprint of citizens by mobilizing them towards environmental conservation, SankalpTaru was born in the year 2011.  Mr. Apurva Bhandari, an MBA graduate with many years of experience in the IT industry wanted to blend together his love for the natural world and the use of technology to better lives. The mission was to create a healthy, green and clean planet through tree plantation, while creating a repository for a rich ecological bio diverse planet and helping rural communities, in the process.

SankalpTaru website was launched in the year 2012, followed by its mobile application in 2013. By 2014, the organization expanded its footprints to 6 Indian states, including Leh Ladakh. Working with various organisations and corporates, SankalpTaru has expanded its green footprints to over 18 Indian states reaching close to a million healthy tree plantations.

Supporting rural livelihoods

Rural farmers are assisted in improving their livelihoods by planting fruit and fodder-bearing trees. These trees help in promoting women’s empowerment and independence, increasing biodiversity in the region, alleviating poverty, and improving green cover in some of the most arid places. The selected regions where plantations are carried out are geographically deprived of greenery. The objective is to increase the green cover, while also supporting rural farmers in strengthening their livelihoods supported with fruit-bearing saplings.

In 2015, in partnership with the Government of India in the Thar Desert plantation programme, SankalpTaru Foundation started working in the districts of Barmer and Jaisalmer. The aim was to support the livelihoods of poor farmers by growing trees of varied plant species like pomegranate, ber, lemon and many more. This initiative not only created greenery in this arid region but has also gone a long way in providing livelihoods to the poor farmers.  Also, associating with Greenlam Laminates a total of 5,002 saplings of pomegranate were planted on the lands of 5 farmers from Dhaka village in Rajasthan. Also, trees were planted in community lands and schools located in the region.

Under the Project Sanjeevani, a Rural Livelihood Support Program, a total of 16,000 trees of several fruit-bearing, shade and fodder giving trees were planted on community lands and on the fields of several farmers in the cold desert of Leh Ladakh and in the arid Thar desert of Rajasthan. Community members were involved in nurturing the foliage around them, with the theme of “Gaanv ka jungle, gaanv ke liye” (i.e. a forest by villagers, for the village). Since its initial plantation, the project has come a long way in revamping the living of the natives and empowering women.

In the south, the Foundation worked in Talupula village in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. The village suffers from frequent droughts and adverse weather conditions for growing crops. The region faces a high agricultural related suicide rate because of failed crops and drop in the market prices. More than 50000 trees were planted to improve the villagers’ livelihoods and provide a sustainable income for their families through the agroforestry approach.  Similarly in Satara and Buldhana districts of Maharashtra, more than 12,500 trees were planted on the lands of identified farmers.

Enhancing urban greenery

Trees are planted in residential societies and schools to combat air pollution, and mobilize city residents to reduce their carbon footprints by increasing green cover. The plantation campaign had a sole aim of combating striking pollution levels of India’s rapidly developing cities by rooting a total of 25,000 trees in several residential societies. The mission was to mobilize city dwellers about environment conservation, while fostering environmental stewardship within them to nurture plants regularly. Our enthusiastic initiative is successfully creating green lungs in the respective cities to sequester high carbon from the atmosphere.

More than 50000 trees were planted in Talupula village in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh to provide a sustainable income for the farm families

Highly conscious towards sustainable development of the environment, NEC Technologies associated with SankalpTaru Foundation to make Earth more greener and cleaner through their Project Protect Earth. Thus, the teams carried out plantations of 600 fruit-bearing and native trees at Nirashrithara Parihara Kendra (NPK), a destitute center in Bangalore. Since its initial plantation, the project has come a long way in developing a self-sustainable and self-enthusiastic model for the inmates of NPK, while revamping environmental conditions of India’s Garden City.

In Pune, 85 trees of several native plant species were rooted in a residential society. Enthusiastic residents, including kids and women participated in the plantation drive and pledged to nurture the saplings regularly.

Educating students

The vision of Clean and Green School programme is to sensitize children about growing environmental degradation and its repercussions and help them grow into environmentally conscious citizens of the country. Students and teachers are involved in plantation activities and cleanliness drives by holding workshops, screening educational movies, and giving them practical training to achieve a thriving ecosystem within their communities.

Collaborating with Teach for India,  a holistic environmental education program was introduced in their MCD schools across the NCR region.  Joining hands with TATA Power, around 5,000 trees were planted in various schools across 8 Indian states, involving around 6,000 students in the campaign. With every tiny sapling planted, the students are being educated about different ways of nurturing plants to grow into trees, while keeping their school vicinity clean and green.

SankalpTaru Foundation and Cairn India organized a workshop with students of State High Primary School in Barmer. Under their Clean & Green School program, the teams educated students about water harvesting through science kit, where the enthusiastic kids also participated actively to learn about environment conservation techniques.

Restoring community lands

By planting trees on barren community lands, we create green pastures and develop an ecosystem which engages community members in growing and nurturing trees.

The Aravallis are a vital ‘Recharge Zone’ for Delhi NCR which are being aggressively exploited to create concrete jungles, while its green foliage is being tarnished into barren land. Perturbed by the destructive plight of Aravallis, Rio Tinto and SankalpTaru Foundation collaboratively initiated Project Bhavnam to restore the greenery by creating green-lungs in this eco-sensitive region. Two thousand saplings of varied native plant species have been rooted on the rugged mountains of the Aravallis Range to strengthen the natural infrastructure around Delhi NCR.

To compensate for the forest fires that took place in Uttarakhand in 2016, native trees were planted. This program was designed to address the locals’ needs, while preserving and growing trees suitable to protect and increase biodiversity. Ever since its execution, the project has come a long way in revamping the natural aura of the Himalayan region and has also enlightened the natives to prevent incidents of forest fires.

Way forward

Presently, SankalpTaru is leading the way in using the latest technology to better serve the planet. Beejyaan 1 is the organisation’s first drone that uses the seed-bombing method to plant tree saplings in toughest terrains, like the Tehri belt. With increasing awareness and the need for expanding green covers, the programme is being taken up as employee engagement programmes in the urban areas. As an employee engagement campaign, the aim is to reduce carbon footprints of the corporate officials, while enlightening them about the importance of trees through their green contribution.

With its aim of reaching more than a million healthy trees and expanding to global locations, the programme has come a long way in the last seven years, with its own share of challenges. Initially, arranging a seed capital funding was a challenge. Unlike for-profit ventures which have better access for funding from venture capitalists, non-profits find it challenging to arrange seed funding. Another main challenge was to expand the operational network in a country like India, which is geographically, culturally and linguistically diverse. It was quite challenging to reach out to remotely located rural places in various program states. Since most of the program states spoke different regional languages, conversing with farmers and convincing them to adopt the program was quite a challenge.

With more than 95% survival rates, the plants are growing healthily, enhancing the green cover in many locations. While the programme is improving livelihoods in the rural areas, it is increasing the green cover and the lung spaces in the urban regions. In future, the full grown trees will help in cleaning the environment by filtering pollutants from the atmosphere. Most importantly, the programme is inculcating a sense of responsibility in communities towards maintaining a healthy environment. Innovatively integrating technology with nature, SankalpTaru allows people with no time or space to plant trees and contribute their share towards the environment. The initiative is efficiently connecting individuals with nature and also helping rural communities in strengthening their livelihoods.

SankalpTaru Foundation

Plot No. 12, Dhoran Khas, Kishanpur,

Near St. Xavier’s School, Canal Road,

Dehradun, Uttarakhand – 248001.


Email – wishy@sankalptaru.org

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