Friday, February 19, 2010

A forest’s tale

Forests are slowly sprouting across north Kerala.
A couple of years ago, the Nila Foundation, Kodeeri Nature Camp and The Blue Yonder‘Traveller’s Forest’ and hoped that it would increase green cover in the region and thus contribute to eco-restoration of the area. decided to plant and nurture trees in a large plot of land along the Nila river in Kerala’s Malappuram district. They called it the
The Traveller’s Forest is also an effort to involve travellers and the tourism industry in “greening the globe”. So tourists visiting the area are encouraged to plant a sapling to celebrate their visit. What, however, distinguishes this ‘greening’ initiative from many other similar ventures is that the saplings don’t simply wither away; instead, they are taken care of by the guardians of the Traveller’s Forest.
And though it’s called the Traveller’s Forest, Gopinath (Gopi) Parayil, who is the soul of the Nila Foundation and The Blue Yonder, says that the trees will be planted whether or not the travellers come. People, especially those from the area, are also encouraged to mark important events in their life by planting a sapling: so saplings are planted to celebrate birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and so on.
Now, interest in the Traveller’s Forest is growing. A few weeks ago, Gopi, spoke at the MES College in Ponnani. Soon after that the principal of the college offered to set aside an acre of land on the college campus for setting up a local Traveller’s Forest. And though much needs to be done to translate this into reality, it is an encouraging step.
As Gopi puts it in a blog post: “If only 10% of our school and college management decides to follow M.E.S Ponnani college, Kerala would be a better place to live in and visit!” Can’t but agree with that.
It also is a small example of how responsible tourism and businesses that operate on responsible tourism principles can make a difference.
Disclaimer: Gopi is a good friend and someone whose work I admire.

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