Every tree is steeped in history. While the bark of the fiery Gulmohar tree, commonly known as Neruppu Konrai, comes in handy as an astringent, the leaves of the Puvarasu are touted to be an elixir for skin diseases. A stroll in the city is all it takes to discover a treasure trove of trivia on the history behind trees that form the core of our natural world. For the dedicated volunteers of Nizhal, who breathe life into nature conservation, a walk in the park is much more than just a leisure activity.
Since its inception in September 2005, the green crusaders have been sensitising citizens to the cultural and ecological significance of the city’s natural sky scrapers. With tree walks, tree surveys, ‘Free the Tree’ campaigns and eco restoration projects to their credit, spreading awareness never got better.
As Shobha Menon, managing trustee, guides me through the PWD Corporation Park, Kotturpuram, a former dump yard which has morphed into a five-acre green campus where 200 indigenous and naturalised species thrive, she dwells on Nizhal’s inspiring journey.
“It’s not only about creating awareness. We want people to feel for trees and ultimately speak for them,” says Shobha, who believes in giving back to the environment even in a small way makes a big difference.
“It’s a myth that only people who have studied botany know about trees. We all just learnt along the way,” says the journalist.
Nizhal’s tree walks in the city’s parks have been a regular feature since their genesis. School students have been increasingly sensitised to the need for protecting the natural habitat with the crowd-pulling tree walks interspersed with mind-boggling trivia.
The committed youngsters of the KRMM Matriculation School, Adyar, pay a visit to the park every week to water the green cover.
Start a movement in your neighbourhood
Informing your neighbourhood about the tree movement and creating awareness about the initiative can change things. Striking a chord among the student community, Nizhal encourages youngsters to make simple presentations to create awareness within the community about trees.
“Why not make a difference to trees in your neighbourhood?” This question had Nizhal design a survey to encourage citizens to inspect trees in their locality, and determine their health-status to protect them.
Sound of music
To help children bond with trees Nizhal conceptualised music CDs about trees. “The idea was to have children sit under the trees and sing songs on nature or sketch while listening to music and enjoy being with nature,” explains Shobha. On a parting note, Shobha raises a question to reflect on, “Trees in your neighbourhood do so much for you, what do you do for them?”
For arranging tree walks contact Nizhal at firstname.lastname@example.org.