In a silent afforestation campaign, a private company has successfully raised more than a million trees on private lands in five districts in the State and recorded a survival rate of 90 per cent.
Giving details to The Hindu about the successful planting of saplings and raising them to trees, A. Joseph Rexon, Director, TIST Tree Planting India programme, said it was started in Kancheepuram district with six farmers in 2003. Slowly, it was extended to Tiruvallur, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai and Villupuram. The company had 6,000 farmers as its members, he said.
The company approached local panchayat heads to identify farmers owning unproductive lands, where agriculture was not possible. Then the organisation approached them and made them the members.
Thanks to the carbon revenues, the company paid farmers at the rate of Rs 2 per tree till they keep the trees alive. Seventy per cent of net profit from carbon credits gained by farmers’ trees would be paid to them after 20 years. Both the revenue-sharing measures yielded successful results, he said.
Explaining the carbon credit system, Mr Rexon said the credit was arrived at by conducting a field and data verification by a team of auditors from Environmental Services Inc. – a USA-based company. The team did a validation and physical verification of trees planted by farmers during November last year.
Mr. Rexon said the team of auditors adopted the climate community biodiversity alliance standard procedure with which they gauged whether the project benefitted climate, community and the biodiversity. They also recorded the presence of trees claimed to have been raised by farmers after physical verification. The selected farmers have signed an agreement with TIST India to stay with the company for 50 years. The organisation identified more than 10 local species of trees for planting including teak, kumizh, red sanders, mango, neem, tamarind, mahogany, sandalwood, malai vembu and jackfruit, Mr Rexon added.