TREES ARE OUR GREEN MEMBERS
Environmental Empathy and Eco-Civilization
Ecosystem Restoration through Familial Forestry
What is Familial Forestry
The concept of Familial Forestry relates trees as green members of the family and thus initiates societal engagement in forestry and conservational activities which leads toward ecological civilisation. Trees have a central role in the environment, and the domestication of trees makes families sensitive to environmental conservation. This green or eco socialisation aims at bringing environmental sensitivity and empowerment. It shapes the stakeholder as an environmental-connected individual. To ensure an active engagement in the familial forestry drive, frequent visits to villages to interact with school students, youth and elderly people on regular basis are functional prerequisites. In north-western Rajasthan where the familial forestry concept has been applied for a decade and a half at a scale hundred of thousands of students and villagers acquire the skill of proper plantation and post plantation care. Familial Forestry makes people climate sensitive and proactive thereby sensitising families who have started clubbing rituals and festivals with trees to make climate action an integral part of social structure. Familial Forestry promotes the plantation of fruit plants at home and in this way it has become instrumental in addressing the menace of hunger and malnutrition because it ensures some amount of fruits in a regular diet. Simultaneously family trees provide nesting places to birds, and insects thus increasing biodiversity.
As a process, Familial Forestry supplements the social forestry scheme by focussing on regaining ecological functioning and improving human welfare across deforested or degraded forest landscapes. Forest landscape restoration seeks to involve communities in the process of designing and executing mutually advantageous interventions for the upgradation of landscapes. A crucial aspect of this process is to ensure the diversity of the species while planting trees. Natural forests with diverse native tree species are more efficient in sequestering carbon than monoculture tree plantations. This ensures healthier local communities and their livelihoods and also enhances the quality of the forest. As Familial Forestry provides a long-term perspective by a strong attachment to the trees, forests, and environment through several generations. This accelerates the accumulation of forest-related know-how which ensures well-being and sustainability for local communities through sustainable forest management.
The amount of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere has increased by more than 40 percent during the past 150 years, on account of the burning of fossil fuels ( coal, oil, and natural gas), deforestation, and other land use changes ( Hartmenn et al.2013 ). This increased CO2 not only has direct effects on climate change but also has indirect effects. This poses many risks to human beings and all other forms of life on earth. Climate literacy and public understanding of the local dimensions of climate change are vital for public engagement and support for climate action. Education and civil engagement are the strongest predictors of public awareness regarding climate change. Being a bottom-up approach, Familial Forestry directly involves the community, specially our younger people in climate action thus it has been replicated in our 1.5 million families from more than 18,000 villages in the desert-prone Rajasthan state of India in the last two decades, succeeding to it more than 3.8 million saplings have been planted and Familial Forestry has become synonym to environmental activism in the arid area of western Rajasthan.
The idea of the institutional forest is an extension of the Familial Forestry concept from house to the community by developing small and medium size forests in educational institutes and on abandoned- degraded public land. Replacing established forests with intensive new plantations doesn’t make sense, therefore what we need is to do restoration abandoned and degraded land by planting and supporting native species. We do the same through Institutional forestation. Institutional forests are intended to restore the natural state of the area as a balanced habitat by engaging students and the local community in sustainable forest management practices. Institutional forests also ignite collective consciousness to foster societal engagement for environmental conservation.
We developed our first institutional forest in 2013, this ‘Gandhi Institutional Forest’ of our college campus at Bikaner has 100 tree varieties, different types of desert grasses, and other floral-faunal diversity of the Thar desert in 6 hectares of land. Our largest institutional forest is ‘Dev Jasnath Institutional Forest’, Dabla Talab, Loonkaransar of Bikaner district. This 74 hectares large forest is a unique grassland in this area that possess almost all variety of native grasses, herbs, and shrubs. Earlier it was an abandoned land that had been degraded by illegal strip mining, it was made free from the mining mafia, fenced properly, and has been restoring as a most diversified native flora forest through community participation only. This forest has started functioning again as a natural habitat for endangered wild species like Spiny-tailed lizards, Monitor lizards, Gazelle, Desert foxes, Jackal, rabbits, and varieties of avian fauna.
Till date, the idea of the institutional forest has been replicated in 200 rural schools and on public lands.
Public nurseries are the indispensable part of Familial Forestry concept, that are meant for providing quality saplings free of cost to anyone. Familial Forestry activities develop small, medium and large size public nurseries as per the availability of resources and scope for the plantation. Nurseries are developed seasonally and permanently. Our permanent nurseries provide saplings through out the year. Our largest public nursery has capacity of 75,000 saplings at a time.
It is assumed that the plantation actually grows but they often do not. Threats to newly planted saplings can range from worsening drought and fire to losses to the expansion of farming, and settlements to damage by termites, straw, and domesticated animals. Agroforestry minimises such losses as it is consistently supervised and taken care of by land owners. When Familial Forestry relates trees as green members it never means that must be within the house boundaries only. It can be on the roadside, on any public land, or on agriculture farms because this relationship is not bound to a particular place. We motivate farmers to consider trees as green guardians of their land and crops as it is the most cost-effective way to improve local ecosystems. This extension of forestry reduces pressure on forests, deep-rooted trees efficiently recycle nutrients, decrease surface run-off, nutrient leaching, and soil erosion, and improve microclimate, such as lowering soil surface temperature and reduction of the evaporation of soil moisture through a combination of mulching and shading, improve soil structure through the constant addition of organic matter from decomposed litter.
Agroforestry is a sustainable resource to obtain fodder, timber, and fruits. Such contribution of agroforestry strengthens sustainable agriculture thus increases income and improves rural living in many aspects. Our public nurseries provide soil booster native species like Prosopis cineraria free of cost to farmers. Our KHET-KHET KHEJARI ( Prosopis cineraria to every Agri farm) drive has developed an understanding about the importance of native species in agroforestry practices.
UN’s Land For Life award to Familial Forestry
An eight-member international jury declared Familial Forestry from Rajasthan, India, winner of this year’s Land for Life Award because of its innovative land restoration and conservation method that promotes the well-being of communities and improves their relationship with nature. The jury was impressed by Familial Forestry’s achievements and how it relates a tree to the family, treating it as a green member of the family.
About UNCCDThe UNCCD is one of the three Rio Conventions—along with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The negotiation of the UNCCD was called for in Agenda 21, the program of action adopted at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, or Earth Summit).
The UNCCD was adopted in Paris, France on 17 June 1994, entered into force on 26 December 1996. It is the only internationally legally binding framework set up to address the problem of desertification. It has 197 parties, making it near-universal in reach.
What UNCCD wrote about Familial ForestryThis year’s Land for Life Award goes to Familial Forestry of Rajasthan, India, a unique concept of Shyam Sunder Jyani, Associate Professor for Sociology at in Rajasthan that relates a tree with a family, making it a green “family member.”
Placing a family at the cornerstone of society, concept ensures the success of any social campaign.
Familial Forestry means transferring the care of the tree and environment in the family so that a tree becomes a part of the family’s consciousness. More than a million families from more than 15,000 villages of desert-prone northwest Rajasthan in over 2.5 million saplings have been planted in the past 15 years, with the active participation of students and desert dwellers.
About the AwardLaunched at the UNCCD COP (Conference of Parties) 10 in 2011, the “Land for Life Award” is considered as the world’s highest reward regarding land conservation and restoration.
This year’s (2021) theme for the award was “Healthy Land, Healthy Lives”.
To demonstrate that LDN is necessary and achievable, the Land for Life Programme engages in awareness raising and knowledge support. Every two years, the programme presents the Land for Life Award which aims to provide global recognition to individuals and organizations whose work and initiatives have made a significant contribution to sustainable development through sustainable land management (SLM).
हरित प्रणाम (Green Greetings)
The sole objective of my life is to dedicate myself to environmental empathy, achieve, public nurseries, and eco-civilization. The idea of Familial Forestry was conceived and developed to achieve this goal. Since 2003 I’ve been making people understand about how to get connected with nature. Millions of Green members of respective families, series of Institutional forests, and people’s nurseries have been propelling this green endeavor towards green socialisation and Eco-Civilization. I expressed my heartfelt gratitude to all green heads, hands, and hearts. Regards
UN's Land For Life Award laureate,
Associate Professor of Sociology
Govt. Dungar Collage, Bikaner, Rajasthan
Mr.Ashok Gehlot, Honorable Chief Minister of Rajasthan, during State Forest Festival, Jaipur
Dated 6th sep 2019
Such an innovative concept for land conservation and restoration is most praiseworthy. It has led to plantation of saplings in the desert areas of Rajasthan & in environment conservation.
वन संरक्षण के क्षेत्र में उनका शोध वनीकरण के साथ-साथ क्रियात्मक पर्यावरणीय शिक्षा एवं जलवायु सशक्तिकरण की एक प्रक्रिया है। जो पारिवारिक वानिकी के जरिए व्यक्ति को हैड, हैंड व हार्ट तीनों ही तरह से पेड़ व पर्यावरण से जोड़कर प्रकृति की महानता का दर्शन कराती है।
Afforestation, which can help prevent ongoing desertification, is a challenge in western #Rajasthan, in the Thar desert. Professor ShyamSunder Jyani is leading efforts for ecosystem restoration using indigenous species. Mongabay India An environmental science and conservation news service.