Jan 25, 2021



Just like bees, we are also social animals. But, this COVID-19 pandemic enforces “SOCIAL DISTANCING” on us. It was difficult for us to keep away from bees. Because of all the restrictions, we couldn’t carry out the planned activities.

On the brighter side, we engaged with one local carpenter, Mr. Sunil Mestri, who designs wooden sculptures. He is a born artist who can shape any wood piece into attractive figures with incredible details.

At AERF, we always try to build the capacity of local communities through different incentive-based initiatives and projects. Using this Bee campaign as an opportunity, we asked Mr. Mestri to prepare a Bee-Box using his skills and traditional knowledge.

The basic idea behind this initiative is to conserve honey bees of the Northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra by using the existing skill sets and traditional knowledge of local communities to increase their involvement in this great cause. Also, this will generate secondary income sources for these communities which will eventually encourage the local communities to participate in the campaign actively.

After several sessions with Mr. Mestri, we got our first “BEEFRIENDLY BOX”.

For these bee-friendly boxes, we majorly focused on 3 things, the overall structure of the box, the size of each frame and compartment, and the minimum use of chemicals like colors and polishes.

We believe that by creating such bee-friendly boxes, the environment, as well as bees, will be benefitted. Also, as the foraging of honey bees increases in the coming months, we will use these boxes to place bee colonies in them.


Using our failure assessment, we tried to seek more and more knowledge regarding apiculture. Fortunately, we got an opportunity to meet Mr. Pandurang Kadam.

He is a resident of Devrkh village, Sangameshwar, and was selected by “Under The Mango Tree Society (UTMTA)”, Gujarat, for apiculture training.

UTMT Society promotes beekeeping with indigenous bees like Apis cerana indica and Trigona to increase agricultural productivity and enhance biodiversity, incomes, and livelihoods of marginal farmers in India.

While talking to him we got to know about Beekeeping using clay pots. He told us that it’s a traditional and very effective practice for beekeeping. By searching for more information about this practice, we got to know that this is not a new practice. Many local communities in Africa practice this technique for Apiculture. Our next objective is to study this technique and try to introduce it at our project sites.

Meeting with Mr. Pandurang Kadam
Meeting with Mr. Pandurang Kadam
Dec 9, 2020

Giants stand tall in the face of calamity

Giant trees - foundational pillars of biodiversity
Giant trees - foundational pillars of biodiversity

Dear Supporters,

Greetings from India!

While the whole world is recovering from impacts of COVID-19, we all are looking for sources of strenghts, hope and resilience. It is often the case that we find those in nature. Our field team recently came across some amazing individual specimens of Giant trees in the northern Western Ghats These trees and its inhabitants tell us how to survive and co-exist during a calamity. 

The west coast of Maharashtra, India was hit by Nisarga Cyclone in June this year. It caused unprecendented damage to the assets of local communities and brought misery to millions residing in these areas. The impact of this cyclone on forests and trees in surrounding areas remained completely unknown as they are not part of the mainsteam economy and thus their loss unfortunatley is not considered as economic loss. 

Our teams' survey of these forests came out with some disturbing and some interesting findings. Many of the giant trees while standing tall had lost their canopies, many lost their huge branches which once were roosting sites for many birds and producing fruits in immense numbers. 

Irrespective of these odds, these trees and its inhabitants- birds remained strong and resilient. A highly intriguing case here is of giant specimen of Alstonia scholaris- a native tree of the Western Ghats.

This tree is used for nesting by White rumped vulture- a critically endangered bird and a Great hornbill - a vulnerable species at the same time. Great hornbill in fact is called as farmer of a forests thus its survival is key to health of the surrounding forest.

While it was an amazing finding for our team, it also shows how biased approaches to conservation fail to appreciate the value of the giant trees in saving endangered species.

We are very glad and satisfied with the fact that our approach to conservation is not discrimanatory in nature and thus we are able to appreciate and save these wonders of mother nature.

Your unwavering support to and interest in this initiative is critical for saving these key supporting structures of biodiversity and forests.

Thanks and wish you a very happy Christmas!

Jayant Sarnaik

Giant trees facilitate rare co-existence
Giant trees facilitate rare co-existence
Giant trees- the only hope for saving biodiversity
Giant trees- the only hope for saving biodiversity
Oct 5, 2020

Rewarding the stewards, building a Giant tree movement

Bats and Giant trees 1.0
Bats and Giant trees 1.0

Dear Supporter,

Hope you are doing well and staying safe in these challenging times of COVID pandemic.

We are truly living in interesting times where everyone across the globe finds oneself in the same situation. We always hear that nature seeks balance but often fail to imagine that Nature can dominate and overpower us so easily.

A small virus is making us rethink about our relationship with nature and our place in this world.

More importantly and something that comes as pleasant surprise is that at this time many nations and big corporations are reworking on their economic models and are committed to invest in green economic recovery.

We also think that this pandemic is an outcome of our attitude to ignore serious warnings given by nature through climate change related events.

The good news is that being supporter of Giant tree campaign, you are certainly making a tangible positve impact not only in mitigating climate change but also helping conserve many important species including Bats.

While lot of misinformation about the role of animals including bats in outbreak of Corona is going around, it is very clear that bats play key role in pollinating many fruit trees that are part of our food system as well as disperse significant amount of seeds of many wild trees and essentially making our forests healthy. 

During our recent and rare field visit ( due to COVID restrictions, we could not travel to the field for about 5 months) , we came across a Giant tree of Syzigium cummuni that was home to a big bat colony.

We had very interesting discussion with the owner of this Giant tree about the history of bats using this tree. We also noticed that saplings of some 10 different tree species had grown very well under the canopy of this giant.

We immediately decided to include this tree in our campaign. Our field team was very alert and found out that for the owner of this tree, wood is still an important source of energy for cooking. We thought that it would be good idea to pay the incentive of the Giant tree conservation program in form of improved cook stove which will reduce the need of collecting wood and pressure on surrounding forests. 

In addition, our field team took every opportunity that was present to carry on the work during the pandemic lockdown and distributed direct incentive among some 40 Giant tree owners already identified during the survey. 

It was a token of recognition of their contribution in keeping these trees standing over generations. Quite a few owners were pleasantly surprised to receive this incentive as they did not imagine that one can receive econimic benefits for also keeping the trees standing.

This generated lot of enthusiasm and then they suggested us to visit other places in the same villages to see the giant trees that our researchers could not map earlier. It turned out to be a big number. Our team tagged new 19 giant trees and rewarded these many new giant tree owners. 

In quite a few cases, the new Giant tree community member is owning as many as 6 large trees which helps us achieve bigger conservation outcome at very reasonable cost.

In other words, the owners of the Giant tree are more happy being part of the campaign and taking pride in it rather than thinking about additional incentive.

This is a very satisfying situation to be in in a world where money is the only parameter that most people associate with value

Take care and stay safe.


Bats and Giant trees 2.0
Bats and Giant trees 2.0
Giant trees and stewards
Giant trees and stewards
Giant trees and stewards 1.0
Giant trees and stewards 1.0
Welcoming new Giant tree to the family
Welcoming new Giant tree to the family
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.