Everything you wanted to know about trees

Staff Reporter

COIMBATORE: "We are living in an age of mass extinction of species. In another 25 years, one-fourth of the species we see around us will become extinct," said V. Ramakantha, Principal and Conservator of Forests, State Forest Service College, Coimbatore, here on Wednesday.

Speaking at the prize distribution ceremony of the `Tree Scrapbook' contest organised by Siruthuli for school students, Mr. Ramakantha said that this was mainly because of the loss and fragmentation of habitats and also because of the introduction of alien species. The contest had given an opportunity to school students to do research on trees and present the information in a creative manner, he said.

The idea behind the contest was to sow the seeds of conservation in the minds of children, said Rajesh Govindarajulu, an apex member of Siruthuli. "Students have shown great involvement in the work. Some even spent time in a carpenter's workshop and visited various taxonomists and scientists to collect details," he said.

The scrapbooks prepared by the students had all the information one would want to know about trees. Around 600 of such books on various trees and plant species were exhibited at the PSGR Krishnammal College for Women. Each student had to select one tree and gather information on it. They spent long hours in libraries, talking to older people, trekked to places where the trees grew and surfed the Internet, collecting juicy nuggets of information about trees, which included age-old beliefs, folk tales and religious importance associated with them. This was in addition to the scientific information on the trees.

The details collected were meticulously recorded in a scrapbook along with little paintings, pictures and even poetry. Students from over 30 schools participated in the programme.

Siruthuli was planning to publish a tree book and a website on trees this year, Mr. Rajesh said. It would also build a secular tree temple in Coimbatore, which would be called Vrikshamandiram, he added.

The first prize went to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, second, to Air Force School and the third, to Kadri Mills School. Consolation prizes were given to Sri Baldevdas Kikani, VLB Janakiammal, Stanes HSS and Sri Nehru Vidyalaya. The prize for the best model presentation went to GKD Matriculation HSS and the prize for the highest participation went to GRG Matriculation HSS.