The vast stone hall with the wide windows was full to a comfortable capacity as the Siemens-Nizhal’s “Go Green” initiative took off with a quiz on trees at St Patricks School, Adayar, recently.

The “Go Green” initiative focussed of the greening of Gandhi Nagar area and its roundabouts with the help of the student community and volunteers from Siemens. Nine Educational institutons: Kumara Rani Meena Muthiah School, Kumara Rani Meena Muthiah College, Bala Vidya Mandir, Rani Meyyammai H.S.S., St. Michaels H.S.S., St. Loius School for the Blind, St. Patricks M.S., St. Marks Primary School and Patricians College, were part of the year-long programme.

During the year, they were involved in awareness programmes that had presentations on tree issues, tree walks and tree surveys in and around their institutions. This also included teachers as well as the students making name boards which can be displayed in a “tree friendly” manner (which meant not hammering in nails when hanging up boards.) This also had them going on a “Free the Tree” campaign where they removed advertisements boards nailed onto trees. Planting around 100 saplings in their allocated area was a highlight in the programme.

The quiz that day had four rounds. Round one being “Identify the tree with this kind of leaf.” And several leaves like the Neem, Indian Badam, Peepal were held up. Round two was identification with pods with Copper pod, tamarind and false rudraksh and others. The next round was a “naming” round, like: Name two trees with big red flowers ( Flame of the Forest, Gulmohar), Name two seeds that are dispersed by bats (Silk Cotton, Sausage tree), Name two trees that has no flowers (Peepal, Banyan) and name trees with medicinal properties (amla, vilam, neem).

The final round was the rapid fire one with some of the questions being, what’s the National tree? (Banyan), Name the State tree (Palmyrah Palm), name the State flower (Glory Lily) amongst others.

Following this, was a group of children sharing their experience. Most of the kids related how they became more aware of the trees that they walked past, knew their names and what valuable contribution they made to man’s life. Tania of St. Micheal’s Academy exclaimed “Trees have feelings too, don’t hurt them by nailing ads.” Paulraj of St. Louis School for the Blind quoted a tamil poem as he said “We lament that there is no rain, not realising that we ourselves are the main cause of this plight. One man has planted 4000 trees, can’t we plant even one?” he implored.

The programme had made an impact on Ananya, Std. III, St. Michael’s, as she declared that for her next birthday she is going to gift saplings to her friends.

Drawing up an action plan for a greener neighbourhood was next on the agenda. The whole hall was divided into four groups and they were given questions like “If I see a tree being cut, what can I do?”, “How can you save a tree from “choking?” (Some trees are affected by the rubble/debris/cement around it.), “How will you take care of newly planted saplings?” and “How can I create more awareness about greening the environment?”

After minutes of deliberation, a representative from each group came forward to speak of the solutions they had collectively come to. They discussed that they would talk to the people who are responsible for cutting the tree as to why they are doing it. If they cannot do anything about, they would request them to plant two trees to replace the one they were cutting.

Eco friendly sign boards should be hung with string/rope and tree guards should be put around saplings. Spreading awareness would include more awareness programmes, eco clubs in schools and in the community and getting on to websites like Facebook and orkut. (Incidentally Nizhal is on facebook.)

The main focus of the day was to bring children closer to trees and make them fans just as they are of their favourite celebrity felt the organisers. After refreshments they kids left the tree-clad campus of the school, excitedly discussing the next activity – cycling around Gandhi Nagar – on their quest to save and conserve trees.

Tree survey results

There are 564 individual trees on the I, II, III and IVTH Main Roads of Gandhi Nagar.

Here are 43 species among them.

Over 100 trees were found to be abused because of the pavement, rubble or tree guards themselves.

Trees common in Gandhi Nagar:

Copper pod

African Tulip

Rain tree

Neem

Indian Cork tree

Pongam

Mast tree

Bullet wood

Gulmohar

Peepul

Wild Badam

Those who are interested to join similar programmes can contact:

Shoba Menon: 9840904621

Depika: 9840744453