A 100 women each in the 33 village panchayats of Taranagar block in Rajasthan's Churu district planted 5,100 saplings simultaneously earlier this week to mark the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. The women pledged to treat the plants as “green members” of their families as part of a unique Harit Marubhumi (green desert) campaign.
The campaign highlighted the crucial interconnection between humanity and nature, making the tree an inseparable part of the “family consciousness”, which in turn brings every issue related to plants, trees, leaves and the climate to the ecosystem for generating environmental sensitivity and empowerment.
All the 33 village panchayats in Taranagar block joined the drive after identifying land where the plantation was taken up. Block Development Officer Sant Kumar Meena said the inaugural programme at Gajuwas panchayat witnessed the plantation of 251 saplings of desert species, such as khejri, rohida, neem, ber, bakayan and sheesham .
The women were also gifted with the fruit-bearing saplings of lemon, guava, mulberry, jamun and pomegranate for planting at home. At the plantation sites, which included government schools and panchayat land, the saplings were sown at a distance of 15 feet each to help them grow with enough space and sunlight.
Sarpanches of village panchayats and the women residing in the nearby areas took the responsibility to keep the plants safe until they grow into trees, shrubs and perennial herbs.
The moving force behind the campaign, Shyam Sunder Jyani, recipient of this year's Land for Life Award of the U.N., guided the volunteers in preparing the soil, selecting the saplings and planting them with care.
The U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has conferred the award on Dr. Jyani, an associate professor at the Government Dungar College, Bikaner, in recognition of his contribution to promote “familial forestry”, relating the tree with the family. The 2021 award has put the spotlight on land restoration and conservation through exemplary efforts for improving the relationship of communities with nature.
More than 10 lakh families have joined the familial forestry campaign in 15,000 villages of western Rajasthan and over 25 lakh trees have been planted over the last 17 years. Dr. Jyani's concept of institutional forest has executed sustainable forest management in educational institutions by involving students and local communities.