Green wall of Bikaner: Professor plants trees to prevent desertification

Plantation drive in Bikaner involving local schools | Photo: Dev Chatterjee

In the last 15 years, Professor Jyani has used his own funding to plant over million trees in Western Rajasthan

Business Standard
Dev Chatterjee  |  Mumbai Last Updated at January 24, 2020

A patch of land in Rajasthan’s Thar desert is gradually converting into a green wall, preventing the desert from expanding further south.

Shyam Sunder Jyani, Associate Professor of sociology of Bikaner’s Dungar college can be accredited for this. For a clearer picture on growth of greenery aroud Bikaner, one has to click on the Google earth around Bikaner in Rajasthan and compare it with older satellite pictures.

In the last 15 years, Jyani channeled his own funding and passion to plant over a million trees in western Rajasthan. Using his sociology background, he involved common people to bring this change. He uses the technique of ‘familial forestry’ which means growing forest as part of own family to achieve this feat.

“My motto is simple, take care of plants as your own child,” Professor Jyani said.

Familial Forestry directly connects families with spots of plantation. This initiates eco-civilization that leads to community level engagement in forestry and conservational activities. Familial Forestry promotes plantation of fruit-bearing plants at home. This approach can be instrumental to address the problem of hunger and malnutrition in India. The initiative of institutional forest is now gaining wide range of acceptance, as thousands of schools have expanded their green cover through familial forestry plantation drive.

Professor Jyani initiated a massive plantation drive to give green tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birthday and has involved several local schools. He initiated the ‘Familial Forestry Gandhi 150’ drive and developed 150 ‘Gandhi institutional Fruit Forests’ in 150 rural schools of western Rajasthan.

School students taking part in tree plantation drive

Planting trees in Thar Desert

Apart from planting trees, his other achievement is the process of in-situ budding. This method of horticulture – budding on desert bushes and trees has led to significant growth of these plants by using the same amount of water, earlier used for irrigation. This method can fight climate change and hunger at the same time.

“If the government clubs in-situ budding than with its other programs it can transform our barren land in to fruit fields and we can combat malnutrition and hunger simultaneously,” says Jyani.

Involving rural locals for planting trees

Jyani has received national award from former president Pranab Mookerjee and the state government award from Rajasthan chief minister. He holds three records in Limca book of records. His initiative has also attracted attention of foreign nationals who want to support this initiative.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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