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Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India

by Applied Environmental Research Foundation(AERF)
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Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India
Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India
Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India
Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India
Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India
Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India
Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India
Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India
Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India
Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India
Giant Trees for Climate Change Mitigation in India
Giant tree conservation due to cultural practice
Giant tree conservation due to cultural practice

Dear Supporter and well wisher,

Greetings! 

In the past few months there wasn't a moment when we did not face uncertainity or felt deeply anxious about our future.

The world wide outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic brought everything to a halt and made all of us think seriously about our future as a society. Being social animals we love meeting fellow community members, friends and relatives while we were asked to exactly to do the opposite- keep a safe distance even from our loved ones.

What did we do to deserve this ? As we are now finding out that reason behind our self imposed arrest is our excessive intervention into the funcitioning of nature's foundational elements- air, water,soil , fire and our treatmenet of all other species in an unfair manner.

In India fortunately we have a rich tradition of worshipping the five basic elements and all the species that inhabit this planet along with us. 

Giant trees are no exception. Through the campaign of saving giant trees, we are working with those communities who still respect and worship nature as sign of gratitude and recognition of its greatness. We infact reward them and make them feel proud about their cultural practices and special.

In quarter gone by, we visited local community leaders from village Ramanewadi in Sangameshwar block and heard the story of Giant tree conservation due to the practice of worshipping. 

We have made a short film on this sacred connection between the communities, species and deities from this region which we will share with you in near future. 

The current situation reminded me of famous quote by the great Albert Einstein who said that Nature hides her secret because of her essential loftiness and not by means of ruse. 

In today's context, this can also mean that the repurcussions of keeping evil thoughts about nature will be disastrous and its mindless overexploitation will wipe us out from this planet. 

This is why we strongly believe reviving and preserving those cultural practices or traditions that respect nature and result in conservation of biodiversity over generations.

Thanks for your support to the campaign and trust in us.

Best 

Jayant Sarnaik

Tree worship as conservation practice
Tree worship as conservation practice
Sacred Giant Bibhitaki tree
Sacred Giant Bibhitaki tree
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A giant tree from a sacred grove in Wayanad
A giant tree from a sacred grove in Wayanad

Dear Supporter,

We all know that fighting a cause as complex as biodiversity conservation needs something more powerful than money- a vibrant ,strong and growing constituency. Building this constituency across culturally diverse landscape such as the Western Ghats is badly required inspite of the challenges. AERF is trying to do this by forging partnerships with local ngos and communities for quite some time.

The campaign of saving 1000 giant trees currently supported by you is galvanising like minded individuals and non-profits from other states of the Western Ghats into joining this initiative like never before. It is serving multiple purposes- it is bringing people together for a common cause- saving Giant trees- and creating much larger impact than perceived at first instance for biodiversity conservation and local communities..

After spending close to 2 and half years in studying Giant trees for conservation, we have understood their unique role in maintaining ecological integrity of the landscape.and sustaining cultural practices of local communities. 

In the last quarter, we made an effort to visit the conservation groups from the southern Western Ghats to understand their perception and views about biodiversity conservation and how Giant trees could be help in promoting their mission. To our pleasant surprise, all of them unanimously agreed on the importance of giant trees in conservation of other endangered species viz,Vultures, Bees. They were equally excited about many opportunities Giant trees offer in establishing connect with and evoking awe/ excitement among common people. 

We visited four different sites of our potential new partners and our old partner- Junglescapes. We talked to the owners of the Giant trees in Bandipur those have been protected through your help. We also visited giant specimen of an endangered tree species- Hopea ponga in Wayanad, Kerala. 

This field visit went off very well thanks to very good organization by our partner of Giant Tree campaign in the southern Western Ghats- Mr.Ramesh Venkatraman and Mr.Hanumanth of JungleScape. We received confirmation from Sigur Nature Trust, Tamlinadu and Forest First Samithi, Wayanad in Kerala for spreading the work of Giant trees conservation at their respective field sites. There is also growing interest in publishing scientific papers on the need to conserve Giant Trees among the Giant Tree community.

This whole experience made me realize that Trees must be talking with communities across in a language that is far more simple and unconditionally.

Othewise how can we find so much an appreciation and resonance among far located and culturally diverse people about Giant trees conservation ?

Thank you

Profile of Giant tree from southern Western Ghats
Profile of Giant tree from southern Western Ghats
Giant tree twins
Giant tree twins
Talking to the proud Giant Tree owner in Bandipur
Talking to the proud Giant Tree owner in Bandipur
Team Junglescape hugging Giant tree in Lokkere
Team Junglescape hugging Giant tree in Lokkere
Giant tree conservation partners from South India
Giant tree conservation partners from South India
Giant Mango tree- Wayanad
Giant Mango tree- Wayanad
Giant trees conservation outreach Bandipur
Giant trees conservation outreach Bandipur
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Dear Supporter, 

The answer to the above question is certainly YES.

There are number of scientific articles on the role of giant trees in mitigating climate change - through significantly higher sequestration of carbon dioxide than other trees in a forest.

One such study conducted in Amazon rainforests suggests that Giant trees sequester about 50% of the total carbon sequestered by the Amazon rainforest. 

Giant trees also teach us also how to take care of other smaller animals and birds. If humans believe that they are a superior species, it becomes their first and foremost duty /responsibility to look after other species with care. 

This has not happened in the past and doesn't seem to be happening.

All we are doing is to get overwhelmed by the feeling of helplessness when a natural calamity happens. It is becoming increasingly clear that no one is immune or safe from such events across the world - rich or poor. In other words, climate change is a great equalizer. 

It is only in the interest of human beings to appreciate opportunities presented by nature to mitigate climate change and save their next generation. 

We hope that with this report, everyone who gets the opportunity to read it will understand the importance of protecting giant trees for better future of our civilization.

Best regards

Jayant Sarnaik


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Dear Supporter,

This initiative for saving giant trees is taking us to unexplored areas and remote villages in the northern Western Ghats of India.

It is providing unique opportunities to oir field researchers in understanding the traditional practices of local communities that have helped sustain the giants and associated biodiversity over generations. 

Many a times, a single giant tree is preserved on the grounds that it is worshipped by the locals.

Similarly, a cluster of giant trees is conserved for it is considered a sacred space. 

On the flip side, the surrounding areas are often encroached for agriculture and the space beneath a large tree is used for dumping trash. 

We are a building a long term initiative in village Vanzole, Sangameshwar block of Ratnagiri district. where our team has documented biodiversity, conservation opportunities associated with some 80 giant trees. 

As a first step for sustaning conservation of large trees in this village, AERF decided to include one cluster of giant Terminalia bellirica trees from this village in FAIRWILD certification initiative. 

We have so far saved 600 large trees of Terminalia bellirica using FAIRWILD certification approach in this region. 

Thus we are pretty confident that we will be able to build on the success of the FAIRWILD certification and bring more number of Giant trees under conservation management.

We are sharing a copy of the report on mapping of Giant trees and sacred groves where a good number of Giant trees were found. 

We sincerely hope that you would enjoy reading the findings.

Thanks for your continued interest in conservation of Giant trees.

Best regards

Jayant 


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Giant trees and stream network
Giant trees and stream network

Dear Supporter,

Greetings from AERF!

Over the last two years, we have learned a lot about importance of and challenges associated with conservation of Giant trees. One of the important learnings has been that the large trees when standing in isolation are far more vulnerable to breaking down due to storm than when found in a group of trees. Thus we thought of mapping clusters of trees of medium and large size in Sangameshwar block. We focused on the species- Terminaila bellirica as this tree forms a large canopy and is preferred by big birds such as hornbills , eagles and many canopy dependent mamals such as civets, squirrels and monkeys. In addition these trees also attract bees for setting up hives. Importantly, these trees produce fruits that have medicinal value and if certififed, these fruits can generate sustainable income for local communities and which might prevent felling of these trees for short term needs of the owners. 

AERF field staff mapped some 113 trees of different sizes that were found in groups. The owners of these trees were also identified and discussions were held about perceptions of the owners and their expectations.

Importantly, we also tried to understand two parameters that would influence the growth and survival of these trees a) overlap between the locations of these trees and the network of streams b) proximity of the trees to human settlements. 

The proximity of the trees to human settlements will certainly influence the way these trees will be managed.

Thus it will be increasingly important to engage with local communities and understand their expectations for ensuring long term survival of these trees. As one can see from the map of the trees in the attachment, mosst of the trees are medium sized and few are very large.

It is our hope that with your support and continuous engagement with local communities, we will be in a position to set up a network of future giant trees across the Western Ghats.

Clusters of large trees if managed well could serve as stepping stones for many large bird species and canopy dependent mammals. 

In the coming months, we will be engaging more intensively with local communities for communicating the importance of saving these trees for conservation of many rare species and in maintaining a healthy climate.

Thanks for your continued interest in the giant tree campaign. 

Giant trees and human settlements.
Giant trees and human settlements.
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Organization Information

Applied Environmental Research Foundation(AERF)

Location: Pune - India
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AERFConserve
Project Leader:
Jayant Sarnaik
Pune, Maharashtra India
$17,642 raised of $30,000 goal
 
232 donations
$12,358 to go
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