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Trees for Shri Mata Vaishno Devi

Katra, Jammu & Kashmir, India

Available for Adoption: 9,298 Trees

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Project Purpose
Trees for Holy Environs

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Aim

Carbon Sequestration

Disaster Mitigation

Promotion of

Ecotourism

Reduction in

Air Pollution

Cleaning Rivers

by Improving Flow

Why Trees?

The Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, one of India's most revered pilgrimages, has its base camp in Katra, a town close to the Reasi district in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The holy shrine draws millions of devotees each year due to their unwavering faith and constitutes an essential component of the total tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.

Katra has a completely new look today. The mud-plastered kaccha houses, dingy shops, open green spaces, and ice-cold water flowing through the Banganga (Ganga created by a baan or arrow) have been replaced by narrow bazaars, pucca buildings, shops, commercial establishments, and fully paved surfaces for vehicles. Increased tourist traffic has overwhelmed Katra, and the area's excessive vehicle and car population cause toxic pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide, and others to be emitted into the atmosphere.

The Banganga Canal which runs through the city used to be Katra's only source of water. Natural water spouts ejecting from hills at various locations throughout the city once offered clean, drinkable water. All of these resources are currently declining as a result of negligence towards natural amenities. Water is transported in tankers from Painthal, Devi-Pindi, and other locations that are around 10 kilometers from Katra. Users then store this water in tanks for 1-2 days of consumption before repeating the procedure.

Forest fires are a big concern in this region. These unforeseen occurrences cause a great number of arboreal animals, insects, reptiles, vascular, and medicinal plants to perish. Due to unanticipated climate variations, such as prolonged dry spells, low rainfall, rising temperatures, and winds, the frequency of forest fires in the Jammu region has grown over the past several decades; this has startled and frightened the inhabitants who live close to the forests. In September 2022, Katra was also hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of 3.5.

A large-scale plantation project has been developed to curb the loss of forests, restore forest cover in the Katra region, and support the recovery of the landscape. The project will inspire the locals and tourists and make them aware of the value of preserving forests and natural wildlife habitats in popular tourist destinations. Additionally, trees will help in reducing the city's rising air pollution by sequestering carbon.


Social Impact
 

After reaching Katra, pilgrims have to undertake a trek of nearly 12km from the base camp to the Holy Shrine. The plantation in Katra will add more value to the experience of yatris who come from far and wide to worship the Goddess. Trees will reduce the temperatures of the region, increase greenery, and reduce pressure on the environment which is under stress because of excessive tourism activities, thereby creating a pleasant environment for people commencing this sacred journey.

The project region's varied topography and verdant surroundings serve as the natural habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.  Snow Leopard, Common Leopard, Black Bear, Goral, Markhor, Serow, Hangul, Musk Deer, and Chiru are just a few of the significant wildlife species that can be found in the area, according to the IUCN Red Data Book and the J&K Animal Protection Act of 1978. Trees will provide shelter and food for many different birds and animals and help in conserving natural ecosystems.

This project is anticipated to provide women and other members of the local Katra community with green jobs. From digging pits to the upkeep of saplings, locals are urged to participate in plantation activities as they know their forests best.

The project will also promote eco-tourism, value existing forests, advance afforestation programs, and offer local populations alternative sources of energy and sustenance. This will help the local communities to benefit from forest resources such as fruits, fodder, fuelwood, and other NTFPs. Trees will also absorb approximately 16 KG of CO2 every year which can improve the microclimate of this location and help the local population as well as tourists who frequently visit Katra. 

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