To Fight Climate Action we need maximum ‘Paryavaran Senanis’ now
We were talking about the importance of Urban Forest and we shared about Tokyo’s urban forests in Japan, as well as its commitment to trees. Let’s talk about a similar case study today. So that our citizens realize how much commitment is required in the field of tree plantation or urban forestry and what work this sector needs for tangible results. Because, as we discussed in the previous article, urban forestry is not just a matter of systems, laws or policy. Urban Forestry needs citizens awareness and concern as much as it needs legislation.
To get a better idea, let’s talk today about Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. Thirty years ago when the whole world was talking about globalization, in the year 1992, the authorities of Belfast understood the need for and importance of urban forestry. That is why the ‘Forest of Belfast’ was formed that year. Various agenda’s were formed for the organization, that included the local government, environmental experts, environmentalists and NGOs working for the environment.
The main topic of the agenda was not only massive tree plantation, but a draft was also prepared on where to plant trees and how to involve the common man in the campaign to save the trees. Under this it was decided to plant massive trees in the city roads, parks, alleys, schools, factories, and along the river banks wherever the space is available. The result was that in the initial stage alone, two lakh trees were planted together.
Someone will say what is new in this? This is how municipal corporations around the world do tree plantations and spend crores of rupees every years. But the main difference between municipal corporations around the world and Belfast’s corporation here is that other corporations believe in showing their own efforts regarding urban forestry and tree plantation, and Belfast corporation nurtured the efforts that they made for tree plantation thirty years ago. This prompted the corporation to persuade the ordinary citizens of the city to take care of the trees under the ‘Forest of Belfast’ and thus they started making ‘Tree Wardens’.
And to everyone’s surprise, the response to the conservation of trees after the launch of the ‘Tree Warden’ campaign in Belfast was unprecedented. This is because the campaign to make ordinary citizens ‘Tree Warden’ not only made the citizens aware about the protection of trees, but also involved them in tree plantations drives through various exhibitions. In order to keep the enthusiasm of the citizens intact, a program called ‘Tree Fair’ was first organized to bring awareness in which around fifteen thousand ordinary citizens participated and were informed through various displays. Also, Tree-shirts were sold there. Why? So that the sale of the ‘Tree-shirts’ gave the general public the impression that the money for the ‘Tree-shirts’ they bought would be used to plant trees all over the city. Due to this, the value and personalised concern of trees increased among the citizens.
In the end, the citizens also funded the tree plantations, helped the corporation with the plantations and the biggest achievement was that thousands of citizens became very proud Tree Warden’s. The tree warden’s took care of the maintenance of trees, protected the trees and planted new ones from time to time and made an unique contribution. It is precisely in this way that over the last thirty years a whole culture has sprung up from Public Associations and Authorities which have been extremely aggressive in preservation of trees.
Because of this, if we look at the statistics and numbers, the Belfast’s ‘Tree Warden’s’ have decided to plant one million native trees in Belfast alone by the year 2035. At the same time, they have set out a six-point program of reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, reduce flooding, increase urban cooling, support biodiversity, and improve the physical and mental health of the people there.
The point here is not about discussing the benefits of Urban forests or the importance of the Urban Forest Policy in today age, we have already discussed that in the earlier article. But the point is, even after laws and regulations are made, there is a need of massive public participation for the success of such program and how can that happen? for that he public will not only need awareness, but also a genuine concern. The citizens need an entire culture that is very serious about conserving trees, forests or even nature.
However, it cannot be said that the situation in that direction in India is very bad. Because in India worshipping environment is already woven in the religion. Hence if the people get awareness of the problems of climate change then the people can easily join and contribute in such missions and in that way solid work can be done in the direction of urban forestry or tree conservation.
In my own experience, in the ‘Satyagraha against Pollution’ movement that I started sometimes ago, I carried out massive awareness campaigns in Gujarat as well as outside Gujarat. As well as through various drives I also engaged people in tree planting activities. I also honored them as a ‘Paryavaran Senani’ samman for encouraging people and making them proud of their environment initiative’s and contribution. The thing that made me extremely happy was that people liked to accept the title of ‘Paryavaran Senani’ and they very proud of that title they were consciously engaging in tree plantation and also preserving the trees that they planted.
Seeing their zeal, I am now planning to take my movement of ‘Satyagraha Against Pollution’ to the national level and to identify ‘Environmental Fighters’ across the country so that important work can be done in urban forestry as well as conservation of trees. After all, our goal is to free this planet from environmental problems. Is it possible that the struggle of freedom can be fought alone? Just as Gandhiji and Sardar patel once needed ‘Swatantrata Senani’ or ‘Freedome fighters’ , to fight climate change and pollution now we need ‘ Paryavaran Senani’ or ‘Environmental Fighters’, with their help we will create a tomorrow that has a clean and healthy environment for the citizens of tomorrow.
By Viral Desai