Greening the city to bring back its biodiversity

Staff Reporter

CHENNAI: On its third anniversary on Saturday, members of non-governmental organisation Nizhal gathered here to celebrate their growing membership and ongoing effort to plant saplings and treasure trees in and around Chennai. “We started with five trustees and five advisors and now have over 100 members in almost every area in the city,” Shobha Menon of Nizhal said.

Planting projects that Nizhal works on include the roads along the MRTS stations from Kasturba Nagar to Thiruvanmiyur to regenerate biodiversity and the planting of 300 TDEF species along the Adyar river, to serve as an educational resource centre and a walking area. “We have driven birds and small mammals away, and we have to bring them back,” Ms. Menon said, outlining Nizhal’s efforts.

“There is no salvation for us except trees,” ecological farmer and adviser of Nizhal S. Natesan told the gathering, explaining that trees could clean and cool the air.

“We need to plant more saplings and reduce the consumption of wood and timber,” he said. He also emphasised the importance of ecological products that have been grown without the use of pesticide.

Another major activity of Nizhal is the removal of advertisement boards that are nailed to trees, with support of the Chennai Corporation, which follows up with offending advertisers.

“Many people do not know that the nails are poisonous for the trees,” Ms. Menon said.

Other projects include tree walks in both protected areas and residential neighbourhoods, the removal of ads nailed to trees, workshops and educational programmes. For the future, Nizhal aims to create nurseries for young trees and a database of parks and playgrounds in the city, Nizhal trustee Sudha Chakravarthy said.

“We don’t think in terms of targets, we just do whatever is possible,” he added.

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