Objectives: Environmental conservation, aforestation, combating desertification and malnutrition, increase in biodiversity by domestication of trees and making people Eco-civilized.
The Context: Arid climate of western Rajasthan is a biggest challenge to forestation. Stray cattle and lack of awareness make situations worse as far as forestry’s and conservational activities are concerned. Malnutrition and less biodiversity are the byproduct of arid climate. Familial Forestry was formulated to address these challenges, as it advocates domestication of fruit plants .In this way it not only ensures proper safety and care of planted saplings but becomes a source of fruit availability to the concerned family also. This domestication makes family climate sensitive as trees has central role in applied environmental education.
The Practice: Familial Forestry makes an emotional connection with nature, the concept of familial forestry was developed by Mr. ShyamSunder Jyani, Associate Professor in Sociology at Govt Dungar College, Bikaner in 2006 that deals with domesticating trees by families to increase green cover, conserve biodiversity, and address food shortage issues. Today, the concept has been replicated by over 4,00,000 Indian families. More than 4000 desert villages in north-west Rajasthan have witnessed the planting of over one million trees, turning familial forestry into a mass movement. Keeping in mind the difficulty to grow trees in the arid environment of Rajasthan, Jyani strived to ensure the survival of the plants by making every family aware and sensitive towards them.
Evidence of Success: Since the year 2006, till date, the concept of familial forestry has connected millions of families planting of around one million saplings and a dense forest on 5 hectares of land in the Dungar college campus has been developed with the participation of students which is termed as Institutional Forest. This forest has a people’s nursery from where 100,000 saplings of fruit plants have been provided free of cost to nearby districts. Due to the arid desert conditions of Rajasthan, it is very expensive and challenging to develop large forests here. Therefore by developing institutional forest using familial forestry technique and by developing small networks of ecological systems on the available vacant lands in educational institutions and other state campuses, Rajasthan can be transformed into a green space.
As a model of institutional forest, Jyani set up a forest in his own Dungar College campus and established a public nursery , adding environmentally loving teachers of state schools of over 150 villages of Bikaner division this year, on the 150th birth year of Mahatma Gandhi .To develop these 150 Gandhi fruit gardens saplings of berries, lime, pomegranate, amla, beel leaf, mulberry, drumstick, tamarind, guava, sitaphal, ramfal, arjun, curry leaves, lasora, plum, net, khejdi, rosewood, neem, bakayan, Malabar neem Rohida, Peepal, Banyan, Churel, Karanj, Gulmohar, Semal, Amlatash have been planted through Familial Forestry. This division not only provided free saplings to these schools but personally planted these saplings, the teachers of these schools also made arrangements at their level for the safety of these plants and proper management of water. In many schools the teachers are burning their own pockets to take proper measures for the safety of plants like protection and water tankers. According to the World Hunger Index 2018, India is ranked 103 in the list of 119 countries, which shows the worrying level of malnutrition in us. The institutional fruit forests are an exercise to include the fruits in the mid-day meal of our children with the aim of eradicating Child malnutrition.
People from 45 countries are connected to @FamilialForestry page on Facebook. Plantations done with this technique reduces the death rate of the plants. Geo tagging of all these Gandhi gardens has also been done through the Familial Forestry App and he has also started organizing Green Dialogues in prayer sessions every Saturday in all schools with the prime objective of mobilizing Environmental socialization of students. Familial Forestry is rapidly becoming an indispensable part of local religious fares, saplings are being offered as devotional offerings in rituals and festivals.
For example, despite being a social scientist, he made his foray into agricultural research by developing a unique technique of in-situ budding of native desert plants like Prosopis cineraria, Ziziphus jujuba, and Cordia gharaf. His technique transforms these plants into high-yielding varieties that help farmers produce fruits in the absence of any additional water source than rainfall. Implementation of the technique is associated with multiple benefits like increasing forest cover, supporting biodiversity, and meeting the livelihood and nutritional demands of the locals. Jyani also set up hundreds of micro-nurseries in villages to grow and nurture the saplings for the planting drives.
Familial Forestry is not limited to village homes but also to schools. Thousands of them have enhanced their green cover through familial forestry institutional forest drives. A biodiverse institutional forest of 5 hectares in our college campus with the aid of students have been developed .A people's nursery established in this forest has supplied 100,000 of saplings to surrounding areas free of cost.
A Revolution in the Making
The concept of familial forestry that arose from sociological understanding of the family as a basic unit of society, is today taking Rajasthan by storm. This selfless devotion to the cause of environment conservation has established him as a relatable role model for those working at the grassroots level. Jyani has also been successfully using social media to spread awareness in and beyond Rajasthan. His awareness programs have borne fruit and people have now started integrating festivals and rituals with plantation drives. Children have been influenced to celebrate Green Diwali by shunning crackers. Now, religious groups in different parts of India have started distributing saplings as devotional offerings. Youth are now gifting saplings in their marriage ceremonies. Independence Day in schools is celebrated with the distribution of saplings along with sweets. The Limca Book of Records has also thrice acknowledged familial forestry plantation drive as a national record. A state university has included the concept in their post graduate syllabus. Various media houses have also covered Jyani's story of Familial Forestry. His work has been recognized by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan and he has been felicitated by the honorable President of India.
Problems Encountered and Resources Required
Lack of awareness in community and doubt about innovation in bureaucracy are the main hurdles to overcome from these issues Jyani decided to run Familial Forestry drive through his own resources initially his devotion and sociological intervention made people aware resulting to it after a decade people started to endorse familial Forestry as their familial responsibilities. Although Jyani is continually doing his job at his own but engagement of people is new addition to the drive.
Notes: The explicability of Familial Forestry makes it a universal practice than can be replicated in any institute, the Institutional Forest is best way to replicate it.