For many, 2020 was the year of reckoning when a global pandemic forced people to pause and reassess thier relationship with nature. But for rural communities, it was a time of acute economic distress, unemployment, and untold hardship.
Employment for rural people during the pandemic
In spite of the pandemic, Grow-Trees.com was not only supporting rural communities to earn their livelihood but also greening denuded tracts of community land and replenishing water bodies.
Through its efforts, Grow-Trees has planted more than 7 million trees while generating approximately 500,000+ days of employment. Alongside, the plantations have been saving endangered wildlife by restoring their habitats as well as providing forest-based resources to the tribal and local residents.
Over 2.6 million trees were planted in 2020 with the help of locals and migrants that were hit hard by reverse migration. They not only got immediate employment opportunities but could also extract benefits from the fruit, fodder, and other forest produce by selling the excess amount in times to come.
“After the hardship inflicted by COVID-19, the poverty-stricken villagers are finally getting economic sustenance. In my village, here in Jharkhand, over 150 men and women are working in the plantation drive and getting extensive support to earn their living.
At a time like this, this work has been of great help to us. Also, the plants will not just help us by providing us with fodder, crops, and other produce in the future but also improve the environment. I work here as the supervisor and oversee all the work. Once the plantation work is done, the villagers will continue to take care of the trees and protect them from any foreseeable danger,” said Supervisor Surinder Mahto.
Helping the environment in tangible ways
This initiative also acts as a boon for the forest cover in India that is increasing but is still lower than the targeted 33 percent of the total geographical area under the country’s forest policy, according to PTI (2019).
The plantation drives that they hold have improved the environment in tangible ways. Water tables were expected to rise due to the growing vegetation, conflicts between humans and animals were reduced, and villagers could grow inexpensive fodder for their cattle instead of having to buy it. In different states of India, local species of trees were planted in collaboration with corporate partners for the benefit of local topography and communities.
Thousands of individuals across the globe also participated in the plantation by virtually adopting these trees and using the unique eTreeCertificates® for sustainable gifting.
“What has been most rewarding about this entire process is that at a time when farming and plantation have become mostly mechanized, Grow-Trees.com was able to provide livelihood opportunities to pandemic hit villagers by engaging them in work that not just benefits them but also the environment they live in,” said Bikrant Tiwary, the CEO of Grow-Trees.com.