By Aishuwarya Sudarshan
Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher- Wordsworth
The himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir is home to sprawling forests, sadly these forests are rapidly thinning due to biotic pressure caused by population pressure, encroachment, logging and the concrete jungle taking over.
It is heartbreaking to watch, what were once lush green habitat home to numerous wildlife species now becoming sparse forests. Wildlife SOS decided to reintroduce to the students of Kashmir University and the locals of Srinagar, the forests and the goodness of nature.
Wildlife SOS used the eve of Earth Day to make a mark with some awareness campaigns. The day started with a bicycle rally that was flagged off at the Kashmir University and ended at the Manasbal Lake. The bicycle rally was a popular event with over 60 participants supporting the cause. The bicycle rally aimed at creating awareness by conveying to the participants and the local communities the need to change ones lifestyle; cycling being the easiest way to reduce pollution and stress on the environment which would be healthy for people and nature. The campaign also aimed at helping people understand the need for communities to increase tolerance towards nature’s creatures and wildlife with special emphasis on the Moon Bears (Asiatic Black Bears) that often get into conflict with people.
When we reached Manasbal Lake the participation had increased and more people showed up for our second program, The Tree Talk!
The Tree Talk programs were started in Jammu and Kashmir by the Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr. Vidhyarthi O P Sharma. He started these talks to educate the masses about the trees that surround them and how valuable they are to the state. The esteemed guests for our program were Mr. Tassaduk Mueen, an officer in state horticulture dept, Dr Shuja Qureshi, scholar SKUAST-K and other scholarly locals. The tree talk ended with traditional refreshments, Kashmiri Qehwa (tea) and Baqir Kahni (baked bread) after which everyone left for the Daudepather forests..
By now the participants were in several hundreds and were all geared up for the best part of the program, the Plantation Drive! This drive was a collaborative effort of Wildlife SOS and Rahim Greens, a company that carries out plantation drives all over the state and works to reduce the dependence on forests. The Daudepather forest range has been subjected to various calamities over the years and the forest has depleted drastically. So in order to help improve the green cover pine saplings were brought to this campaign for the participants to plant.
600 Pine Saplings were planted by kids, students, and teachers, other enthusiastic and supportive participants. The day ended on a high note with more locals coming forward and asking if we had any more saplings that could be planted. We promised them we would do many more plantation drives that they could be a part of. They promised full attendance, and we couldnâ€™t have thought of a better way to bring in Earth day!!
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