Blue Dart Express Limited has planted a total of 1, 11, 000 trees across India with Grow-Trees.com to help offset the carbon footprint created by its operations. It is heartening to see corporations step forward and take responsibility for the environment, an aspect of our lives that we take for granted as a community.
Blue Dart has adopted 25, 000 trees in Koraput, Odisha (Trees for Tribals), 20, 000 trees for Community-based Ecotourism in Sikkim (Trees for Eco-Tourism); 10, 000 trees in Nimbhora, Maharashtra; 20, 000 trees in Chittor in Andhra Pradesh and 36, 000 trees in Kheda, Gujarat (Trees for Rural Communities) for the year 2017-2018. This contribution by the company is aligned with the vision of Dr. Frank Appel (CEO of Deutsche Post AG) and the company to cut down carbon emissions in its operations by improving carbon efficiency and planting one million trees.
Global warming, a phenomenon directly related to the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is influencing drastic climatic events in the form of over cooling in some parts of the world and over-heating others simultaneously.
Carbon dioxide (also a greenhouse gas) is emitted from the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, deforestation, decomposition of natural matter and of course respiration. The occurrence and release of CO2 isn’t unnatural, but when present in excess amounts, they trap heat, causing the environment to get warmer, which in the long term will result in global cooling i.e. speeding up our descent into an ice age. Trees feature in our efforts to slow down climate change by helping alleviate the effects of global warming on our environment. Blue Dart, by supporting the plantation of 1, 11, 000 trees, has helped offset 22, 20, 000 kgs. of carbon annually (once the trees reach maturity).
But what else does that mean for the environment?
For one, cooler temperatures around the regions where these trees are planted. Trees absorb CO2 which has the effect of moderating temperatures. The project sites in which these trees have been planted are located in rural areas where farming and agriculture are prevalent. The trees play a role in the agroforestry systems in these regions, making farming a sustainable, profitable and ecologically viable method of land-use. Endemic biodiversity that is dependent on trees such as local bird species, insects, as well as domestic and wild animals that derive their nutrition, obtain shelter and protection and create relevant ecosystems that impact the plant life and the human communities in these regions.
Blue Dart has supported the plantation of trees that have an over-arching social impact objective that will benefit Rural Communities (in Nimbhora, Maharashtra; Chittor, Andhra Pradesh; Kheda, Gujarat) and Tribals (Koraput, Odisha) and for the creation of employment and sustainability in the eco-tourism sector in the eastern state of Sikkim.
Trees planted for uplifting local communities especially tribal groups are significant because they aim to create employment for the members of such communities that are being forced to resettle in urban centers to earn a livelihood. The communities use the fruit, flowers, leaves, and bark of the trees for food, medicine and fodder–for their own consumption as well as their livestock. Take for example moringa oleifera, best known for giving the world drumsticks. Each tree can yield between 200-400 pods per season. With minimum selling price being set at INR 25-30 per kg by the Indian government, rural communities in Nimbhora, Maharashtra stand to profit a great deal by the sale of moringa. The revenue from the sale of moringa are allocated to the public coffers and invested in the development of the village as a whole. The trees have a life cycle of about 15-20 years and yield produce all year round.
Amla or the Indian gooseberry is also a good source of income for tribal communities as well. They are heavy-fruiting trees that can grow in semi-arid conditions yielding a dense output with minimum effort and low maintenance. Amla is used in Ayurvedic medicine and in making healthy concoctions such as chavanprash and triphala. Amla is used abundantly in traditional non-allopathic medicine. Because of its use in producing natural remedies and in the production of shampoo, dyes, oils etc. there is a great demand for the fruit in rural and urban markets. Communities that harvest amla stand to earn a substantial income from its sale.
Tribal communities living in Koraput, Odisha find themselves largely dependent on agro-forestry due to the tense political climate that prevails in the region. Grow-Trees.com CEO Mr. Bikrant Tiwary recounts that interaction with tribals in Koraput revealed a community that was in dire need of sustainable employment and wherewithal to stay independent of resources that come from towns and cities due to strained access. Essentials such as medicine, food, fuel and fodder for livestock are all derived from the neighboring forests. The locals use tendu patta or leaves of the tendu tree to craft plates and make beedi for consumption and sale in small markets close by. The villagers are also educated on the benefits of growing local species of plants and trees on their lands as opposed to only commercially viable trees that take a toll on the soil and wildlife. The use of branches of trees for fuel, and for creating art and handicrafts; using flowers to make dyes; and using fruit to ferment or pickle for sale in local and urban markets are some of the ways in which forests are a trove of income-generating opportunities for local communities.
Similarly, communities in Dalapchand in Eastern Sikkim are dependent on forests and its endemic biodiversity to attract tourists thereby, improving the standard of living among the regional communities living there. The plantation of trees at the Periphery of Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary will, as the trees mature, help preserve the ecological integrity of the forest land surrounding the Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary and add to the natural beauty of the state–a major draw for visitors. Sikkim is home to a variety of rhododendrons, alpine lakes, unique species of moths and butterflies, 588 different types of orchids and a plethora of medicinal plants that create an ecosystem different from others.
Planting trees in rural, communally owned lands is a practice that will pay-off in the coming years as development and industry claim more forests and jungles in the country. The ultimate test of modern technology, innovation and development is its ability to do well by doing good and finding ways to minimize the impact by proactively empowering communities and conserving the environment.