Each Tree Counts #RestoreThiruvannamala
Forests are an incredible resource not only to the country that they are located in but also the indigenous communities that depend on them for their basic necessities. They are abodes of biodiversity and home to flora and fauna. But sadly, our country is rapidly losing this resource due to increased land use, overgrazing and indiscriminate felling of trees. India is losing 1.5 million hectares of forest cover every year and at this rate it won’t be long before India’s forests are depleted entirely. In such a scenario, the job of those few organisations that are working to protect our forests becomes ever more important.
The Forest Way (TFW) is one such organisation. We are an NGO based in Tiruvannamalai who have been regenerating a forest on the sacred Arunachala hill. We plant 15000 trees a year and create and maintain fire lines over 20 km, to prevent wild and man-made fires from spreading on the hill. We have been running a children’s park at the base of the hill which is free for the public. We also raise 25000 saplings of native species every year and run educational programmes for the local children. All this is done through donations from people who care for the protection of our natural resources.
Our operations took a major hit this year when Thiruvannamalai suffered the worst drought it has seen in 140 years. It resulted in a drying up of water bodies and the loss of plant and animal life. Our usual plantation efforts also had to be stopped. However, things turned around for the better in August when we received, 50 cm of rainfall which filled up our water bodies. We have doubled our efforts to use this opportunity to not only continue to work towards our goal but also to compensate for the damage to the wildlife caused by the drought. Work has already begun with around 10,000 saplings already planted. This year we are also planting close to the peak of the hill, which involves a trek of over two hours. We have now also taken up the process of restoring a lake (Thamarai Kolam) which is home to many species of water birds. This lake and its surroundings have been left neglected leading it to be used for nefarious purposes. We wish to reclaim this lake for the community and are planning to take this up in stages.
The project will use only local material and will generate employment to sustain around 50 families.
The first stage is to create a park around the bund of the lake. We intend to plant trees, create play equipment, resting places for elders and a walkway around the park.This lake never dries as the town’s gray water enters it. We are in dire need of funds to be able to continue towards our goal of the reclamation and prudent use of our precious natural resources. Here is how the funds will be used:
Clean up – 1 lakh
Landscaping and planting – 5 lakhs
Setting up play equipment – 1 lakh
Benches for the elderly citizens – 1 lakh
Repair of the walkway – 1 lakh
Laying of pipes etc to get water to the park area from the lake – 1 lakh