Doctor invests 1.6 lakh from on pocket to grow an urban forest

This inspiring news comes to us from Raigad, India.

Dr. Sudhir Pillai is a cardiologist based in Mumbai who had always been interested in afforestation. For him, the fact that thousands of trees can be grown on a relatively small piece of land was quite inspiring.

He had read about Pamela and Anil Malhotra, a couple who planted and grew an entire forest in Karnataka and was inspired by them. It prompted him to convert his agricultural land near Nerul, Navi Mumbai into a lush forest full of native trees.

Dr. Sudhir says, “I had always loved the idea of working with the soil, and to foster my passion, my wife and I bought a piece of land in the Raigad District.”

Dr. Sudhir and his wife Neeta are both busy professionals and this meant that they could only travel to Raigad during the weekends. But the couple and their children truly looked forward to these trips as it meant a welcome break from hectic city life.

For a year the couple only grew leafy vegetables there, but after reading about the Malhotras they decided to make a permanent shift and grow a forest.

Miyawaki is a Japanese technique developed by Akira Miyawaki which helps you grow a dense forest in a restricted patch of land. The method says that you need to grow native species of trees, sub-trees and vertical growing shrubs in a limited space of land.

In March, 2018, the Pillai family visited Raigad with the sole aim of planting a forest there. They had studied the native species of Raigad and had a list of 25 such trees ready.

They planned to approach the forest department for saplings at subsidized rates but faced a setback there. The department straight up refused to sell them the saplings. They were reserving them for a government tree plantation event.

Each sapling would now cost Rs 100 so the family had to dip into their savings and set aside Rs 1,60,000 for the saplings in total. But the cost was worth it.

Today after 1 year and 4 months after the first sapling was planted, the forest is showing positive signs of growth. 96% of the saplings have survived and only 60 out of the 1600 trees succumbed to heavy monsoon rains. That is a very good survival ratio and some trees have also reached the 20 ft mark within a year!

Image Source: The Better India

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