Monday, January 30, 2012

Planting Trees

This past Sunday we took Evan's Cub Scout Pack to the Aravali Biodiversity Park in Gurgaon, Haryana. Gurgaon is a sprawling satellite city outside of Delhi, not unlike Noida. The city set-aside 562 acres of undeveloped land as a green space and natural destination for residents to enjoy. It is a huge, barren chunk of land, but the green space is sorely needed in what has rapidly become the urban chaos and hyper-construction zone of Gurgaon.
As part of earning their forestry badge, the cub scouts were invited to visit the park to learn about native species of plants, why they are important and who the trees benefit. The trees, including Neem, Peepal, Banyan, and Tamarind are all native to northern India. This re-forestation is important to help protect the arid land here from wind and water erosion and to help control the spread of non-native species. Oddly enough, one of the biggest culprita is, Mesquite. It's a thorny, shrub native to the Americas (believed to have been brought here 300 years ago by the Portuguese) and has spread like wildfire across much of northern and central India.
During a brief educational presentation, park professionals explained the many uses of the trees the boys were to plant. Extracts produced from the Neem tree, as an example, are apparently beneficial for intestine and respiratory disorders, as well as for the treatment of arthritis and many surface-skin conditions.
After a brief list of safety instructions, we were separated into small groups and hiked out on a nearby ridge to plant trees. The holes were pre-dug, and staff was present to provide help us access water, dirt and even first aid and some refreshments. The park even provided extra security for us in the form of mounted police.
As a group, the Cub Scouts and their parents managed to plant over 200 saplings during the course of about ninety minutes.
The weather was perfect for planting. The trip was a well organized, positive experienced for parents and scouts alike! The on-going project seems to be a great model for a country sorely in need of more environmental awareness, conservation and protection.

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