To mark this year's World Environment Day, the Tiruchi wing of the Isha Foundation has decided to nurture at their own nursery four types of tree saplings: trees that give shade, bear fruits and flowers, and those that provide timber. Instituted under the banner Project Green Hands, the two acre nursery near central bus stand, will be home to nearly 1 lakh saplings belonging to more than 20 botanical varieties.
Inaugurating the nursery, K.Meena, Vice Chancellor, Bharathidasan University, pledged ample student support for Project Green Hands, which hopes to plant 11.4 crore saplings in Tamil Nadu. “The NSS units of the various constituent colleges of the Bharathidasan University will pitch in for this project by providing the planted saplings with adequate care,” she said.
The project hopes to bring the tree cover of Tamil Nadu to the ideal 33 per cent, according to Swami Maruta, Coordinator, Isha Outreach Program.
The foundation was inaugurating nurseries at five districts simultaneously on World Environment Day, he added. Torrential rain can within moments wash away fertile top soil, which takes several years to form, and trees are the only things that can adequately prevent this.
“Erosion of top soil will lead to desert-like conditions according to a UNICEF survey, which states that present levels of deforestation in the state, if left unchecked, could lead to such a condition in nearly 60 per cent of its landmass,” he said.
Beginning in 2005, nearly 1.25 crore saplings have been planted in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry under the project. “The new nurseries will raise and maintain the saplings on an ongoing basis for distribution around the respective districts,” he added.
A pamphlet distributed at the event explains the way in which saplings should be planted and maintained:
The pits should be one feet deep and wide; the soil should contain 50 per cent red soil, 20 per cent river sand and 30 per cent manure; saplings planted along roadsides should be spaced 15 feet apart; take extra care of the saplings during the first three months and during the following summer; and finally avoid planting saplings beneath electrical posts, spots with underground pipelines, those under the shade of existing trees and where there is frequent water stagnation.