Trees for Villagers
Yavatmal, Maharashtra, India
25,000 Trees Adopted by DHL Group 2018-19
Trees for Rural Communities
Plantation of local tree species on the community lands of the Morkhed village range, Digras taluka within Yavatmal district, Maharashtra, India.
- To regenerate degraded forests in the area with the plantation of local tree species.
- To improve tree cover on the uplands to reduce the effects of soil erosion and run-off of water.
- To provide empowerment to rural communities along with fruits, fodder and non-timber forest produce.
- To improve the living standards of its inhabitants by incorporating sustainable livelihood opportunities for the tribal community.
In 2006, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj named Yavatmal one of the country's 250 most-backward districts (out of a total of 640). The district, which was once home to diversified flora, now has depleting forest lines, leading to degraded lands, polluted water bodies and indebted farmers and villagers. According to the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, “Digras tahsil is rich in floral biodiversity with tremendous medicinal potential. The plants in this area made an integral part of the routine health care system of the tribals residing in the small villages and towns. Nowadays, it has been realized that the ethnobotanical studies of different era are going to play an important role for future in social health system. However, the traditional use of plants has declined due to scarcity of plant species, because of human activities and also by overgrazing by animals. Therefore, it has become the need of the hour to conserve these plant species.” The project aims to plant trees like neem, karanj and tamarind among other species to preserve the rural traditions, and aid in the sustainability of the communities. “The life of tribal and other local people were very much dependent upon the plant products, mainly because they used the plants as vegetables; few species were used as fruit and also for grains. These plants play an incredible role in their life. So, it is necessary to keep this knowledge of tribe alive. It is necessary to re-advocate the use of wild vegetables and edible fruits to young generations of tribe.”, stated a research on 'Exploration of some wild edible plants of Digras Tehsil, Yavatmal'.
Furthermore, the plantation activities would help maintain economic sustainability of the rural communities. Not only would it provide them with employment opportunities, but also generate abundant forest produce which can be sold or fed on. In a survey by the Hindustan Times, it is highlighted that "Osmanabad, and Yavatmal in Vidarbha are two of the worst affected districts in the state, in the last seven years." The study showed that 76% farmers committed suicide due to lack of source of income, which led to indebtedness.
Based on multiple research carried out by the Government, it can also be stated that the depletion of forests has led to massive degradation of the groundwater table. Fluorides and other dissolved salts in drinking water have exceeded the safe limit in the past two decades. The villagers are now prone to dental diseases, as well as skeletal complications, leading to Fluorosis. Considering these alarming facts, “The State Forest Department has set a target of planting 50 crore saplings across the State in the next couple of years to maintain the alarmingly depleting forest cover in the State.” (Times of India). In order to build a sustainable ecosystem, it has become crucial to act, and plant trees for the betterment of the rural inhabitants of the district.
The project involves plantation of valued native trees, including Bamboo (Dendrocalamus spp.), Jackfruit (Artocarpus spp.), Drumstick (Moringa spp.), Neem (Azadirachta spp.), Jamun (Syzygium spp.), Tamarind (Tamarindus spp.), Custard Apple (Annona spp.), Karanj (Millettia pinnata) and Kashid (Peltophorum pterocarpum).
Flora and Fauna
The region is characterized by arid deserts, tropical rainforests and mountain ranges. The varied climate and topography has resulted in diverse floral and faunal presence in the district. The main tree species found in the area include Bamboo, Babul, Hiwar, Tamarind, Neem, Bor and Hingabet among others, some of which are being planted under the project.
The major fauna of the region includes Barking Deer, Nilgai, Wild Boar, Golden Jackal, Indian Leopard among others. The district also has two major Wildlife Sanctuaries, namely Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary and Painganga Wildlife Sanctuary.
On an average a tree offset 20 kgs of carbon per tree per year and produces 118 kg of oxygen per tree per year, the trees reverse the effect of adverse climatic conditions and natural phenomenon, thus protecting the community at risk. The project has so far provided approximately 2,100 workdays to the rural community, women being the key beneficiaries. The local communities also earn wages from the upkeep of the saplings and benefit from the use of the non-timber forest produce. The tribal communities will benefit from a significant reduction in soil erosion in the area over time and regeneration of the cultivated land in a slow but consistent manner. This will provide respite from the incessant crop loss, while also providing forest products as an alternative source of livelihood. With the new saplings growing, the source of income for the households will be maintained, thus, making it sustainable.