What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of Rajasthan?
Definitely, desert, heat and infinite stretches of dunes that go on for miles with no greenery in sight. One man is on a mission to change it for real.
With repeated observations of climate change occurring across the globe, such acts towards nature conservation are the need of the hour.
What started in 2003 as a collective effort to resuscitate few Neem trees in the campus of the college where he was teaching, later saw Shyam Sundar Jyani, an associate professor at Government Dungar College, Bikaner, and his students planting saplings across the state for 11 years.
Coming up with concepts such as Familial Forestry and Budding, Shyam has not just brought back the biodiversity of the region but also uplifted the economic status of the people.
Familial Forestry was a concept formulated by Shyam in 2006 where villagers are urged to plant fruit trees within their compounds and treat them as their own family member. Today, the concept has been replicated by more than 200,000 families with more than 750,000 trees planted in more than 2,600 desert villages of north-west Rajasthan.
Jyani has developed a forest on four hectares of land within the college campus, where more than 100 varieties of trees and plants have been planted and also launched an Android-based mobile app-- My Forest and Green Leaders—to help people to connect with the concept and become aware of the environment.
One of the highlights of the movement is the act of selflessness that adheres to the cause. So far, Shyam has bought saplings and provided irrigation tankers on his own time and expense.
“Though the government has recognized our efforts, so far all the funding that goes behind the drives comes at my own expense. I take my time off during the vacation breaks at the college and go across the state where more people can be made aware of the necessity of environment conservation,” he said.
“Familial forestry is an idea that is based on head, hand and heart and involvement of families, especially students, in learning about the environment. Familial forestry is a way through which we can engage every household in growing forests.”
Jyani has also developed in-situ budding of desert ber or Zyzyphus nummularia bush that grows about two meters high and spreads out, forming a thicket in the desert soil.
This is the source of the smaller variety of fruit called Ber. He developed a technique in which epidermal tissue is added to a new rootstock to increase fruit yield.
The fruit yield of these trees has increased manifold without water except rain, said Jyani, who is also working to revive the Khejari, the state tree of Rajasthan.
The concept of budding was conceived upon a previously abandoned experiment by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), wherein bushes of Zizyphus nummularia, more commonly known as Ber in north India, were grafted using epidermal tissues to a new root-stock to increase fruit yield.
Owing to his exemplary services towards nature conservation, Shyam was awarded by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee in 2012. Despite the recognition on the national front, Shyam feels that much is left to be done. With hopes of developing familial forestry labs with government support and funding in schools and Panchayats in Bikaner district, he wishes that more villages become aware of the need for nature conservation and its benefits in the longer run.
source: thebetterindia, hindustantimes